Pompeo to investigate charges of surveillance against Yovanovitch

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoIran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report To support Hong Kong's freedom, remember America's revolution Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law MORE on Friday said he will investigate allegations that former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchCheney clashes with Trump Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Bolton book puts spotlight on Pompeo-Trump relationship MORE was under surveillance by private American citizens intent on her removal from Kyiv and possibly threatening harm.

The secretary's remarks, made in an interview with the Tony Katz Today radio program, mark his first public comments nearly two days since bombshell revelations emerged that an associate of Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiOusted Manhattan US Attorney Berman to testify before House next week Sunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down MORE was discussing tracking the ambassador’s movements as part of a larger campaign to secure her removal.

“We will do everything we need to do to evaluate whether there was something that took place there,” Pompeo said in the interview.

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“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. Any time there is someone who posits that there may have been a risk to one of our officers, we’ll obviously do that.”

Pompeo has come under harsh criticism from congressional Democrats and State Department officials for failing to speak out in defense of Yovanovitch, whose removal from her post in Kyiv in May is a central piece of the impeachment allegations against President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE
 
House investigators this week released new documents illustrating the larger effort to remove Yovanovitch from her post, including text message conversations between Lev Parnas, an associate of Giuliani, and Robert Hyde, a former Marine, Trump campaign donor and Connecticut congressional candidate.

Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowTrump dings CNN, 'Morning Joe' ratings as Tucker Carlson sets record Susan Rice 'humbled and honored' by rumors Biden considering her for VP Trump touts ratings for rally, Fox News town hall: 'These are the real polls' MORE that the only motivation to remove Yovanovitch was to make it easier to pressure the Ukrainian president, and that he worked at the direction of Giuliani who in turn kept the president updated on their efforts. The effort was focused on getting Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump hits 'radical left,' news media, China in Independence Day address Kaepernick on July Fourth: 'We reject your celebration of white supremacy' Jaime Harrison seeks to convince Democrats he can take down Lindsey Graham MORE and his son Hunter Biden.

The president “knew exactly what was going on,” Parnas said in the interview.

In text messages that Hyde sent to Parnas, the former Marine alludes to having inside connections close to the ambassador and suggests he has her under physical surveillance.

Both Parnas and Hyde have since downplayed the exchanges, with Parnas saying he doesn’t believe Hyde had the capacity to track the ambassador and Hyde rejecting that he had eyes on Yovanovitch. 
 
The president was impeached last month on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, for blocking witnesses and documents related to House Democrats' investigation. A Senate trial to decide whether the president should be removed from office will take place next week.