Pompeo says he 'never heard' about any efforts to surveil Yovanovitch

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUN Security Council rejects US bid to extend Iran arms embargo Overnight Defense: US seizes Iranian fuel bound for Venezuela | Progressives cool on Biden's foreign policy | Takeaways from Israel, UAE opening diplomatic ties Whiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire MORE on Friday said he was not aware of any surveillance of Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchMarie Yovanovitch on Vindman retirement: He 'deserved better than this. Our country deserved better than this' Cheney clashes with Trump Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November MORE during her time in Kyiv as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, his first public comments on allegations that associates of Rudy Giuliani surveilled the career diplomat as they pushed for her removal.

“I never heard about this at all,” Pompeo said in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt when asked if he was aware that Yovanovitch was being surveilled.

Pompeo said he was only aware of the suggestion that the ambassador was being followed after the release of text messages describing the effort, released this week by the House Intelligence Committee as part of evidence in the impeachment trial against President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE.

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“Until the story broke ahead, to the best of my recollection I had never heard of this at all,” Pompeo said, adding that he intends to "evaluate, investigate" whether Yovanovitch was under surveillance.

"We will do everything we need to do to evaluate whether there was something that took place there," he said in a separate interview Friday with radio host Tony Katz.
 
"I suspect that much of what’s been reported will ultimately prove wrong, but our obligation, my obligation as secretary of State, is to make sure that we evaluate, investigate," he said. "Any time there is someone who posits that there may have been a risk to one of our officers, we’ll obviously do that."

The text exchanges released this week were between Lev Parnas, an associate of Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, and Robert Hyde, a Trump campaign donor, former Marine and Connecticut congressional candidate.

Hyde suggested in the messages he had a connection inside the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine and access to people willing to take action against the ambassador. Hyde suggested he was following Yovanovitch's movements and her electronic communication.

Pompeo also denied knowing Parnas, a key individual in the investigation surrounding Trump’s impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Senate Democrats have called for Parnas to testify in Trump's impeachment trial about what he knew of the alleged campaign to pressure Ukraine.

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Pompeo dismissed the impeachment as “noise here in Washington” that “comes up from time to time” in foreign policy discussions.

“It comes up from time to time. We do our best to make sure that everyone is focused on the things that really matter,” the secretary said.

Parnas has said in media interviews that “President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” related to efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOn The Money: Economists flabbergasted after Congress leaves with no deal | Markets rise as the economy struggles | Retail sales slow in July Congress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump touts NYC police union endorsement: 'Pro-cop all the way' MORE in an effort to discredit him before the 2020 election.

Parnas has also detailed that he was part of the campaign to remove Yovanovitch from her post as ambassador, saying the plan to remove her was solely motivated to clear obstacles in the way of pressuring Zelensky over announcing investigations.