Parnas: US ambassador to Ukraine removed to clear path for investigations into Bidens

Parnas: US ambassador to Ukraine removed to clear path for investigations into Bidens
© Greg Nash

The campaign to remove former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchHouse panel says key witness isn't cooperating in probe into Yovanovitch surveillance President Trump's assault on checks and balances: Five acts in four weeks Former US ambassador Yovanovitch lands a book deal: report MORE from her post in Kyiv was done with the sole intent to clear the way for associates of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE to better pressure the Ukrainian president to launch politically beneficial investigations, indicted Ukrainian businessman Lev Parnas said in an interview Wednesday night.

The revelation undercuts arguments by House Republicans and congressional allies in the impeachment allegations against Trump that Yovanovitch was removed from her post because she had lost the confidence of the president, and adds new details of efforts by former New York City Mayor Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGiuliani: Bloomberg 'jeopardized' stop and frisk by 'overusing it' Giuliani asked for post-9/11 mayoral election to be canceled so he could stay in office: book House panel says key witness isn't cooperating in probe into Yovanovitch surveillance MORE to target the ambassador. 

The House last month impeached Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over whether he withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announcing investigations into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Hillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Vulnerable Democrats brace for Sanders atop ticket MORE and his son Hunter Biden that would benefit Trump’s reelection prospects. 

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Parnas spoke at length with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow less than 24 hours after House Democrats revealed a tranche of documents provided by the indicted businessman showing handwritten notes, text messages and official correspondence with associate Robert Hyde, a Trump campaign donor and GOP congressional candidate in Connecticut, detailing how Hyde was following the ambassador’s movements from the embassy in Kyiv and referring to her with derogatory terms. 

Hyde also claimed to have an insider at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv providing him information on the ambassador’s movements. 

In his interview, Parnas said he didn’t believe Hyde had the capacity to surveil the ambassador, describing him as a drunk, a “weird character” and a liar. 

“He was either drunk or making himself bigger [more important] than he was. I didn’t take him seriously,” Parnas said, adding that he was “disturbed” by Hyde’s text messages.

Yovanovitch was one of the first officials to testify in the impeachment inquiry against the president and detailed a campaign against her that had Giuliani and Parnas alleging that the ambassador was disloyal to the president and she was “bad mouthing” him. 

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Senior State Department official George Kent testified in November that the "campaign of slander" against Yovanovitch was fueled by articles written by former The Hill opinion columnist John Solomon.

The effort led to Yovanovitch’s abrupt recall from her post in May, and she testified in front of House impeachment investigators that colleagues at the State Department urged her to quickly get out of Ukraine over fears for her safety. 

Trump — in the July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president that eventually launched the impeachment inquiry — called the ambassador “bad news” and that “she will go through things." 

Parnas said on Wednesday that he no longer believes the accusations he made against the ambassador to be true and offered an apology.

“I don’t believe it, that’s why I want to apologize to her because — at that point I believed it, but I don’t believe it now after reevaluating it, seeing everything that transpired, looking at the documentation again,” he said.

A lawyer for the Yovanovitch is calling for an investigation over the surveillance claims. The top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is also launching an investigation into what the State Department knew of the threats against Yovanovitch and allegations that Hyde was conspiring with government employees to harm the ambassador.