Pompeo to investigate charges of surveillance against Yovanovitch

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOrganizing evacuations during a shutdown The Saudi-Russia oil fight is the last thing the economy needs in a pandemic US intel agencies conclude China has under-reported coronavirus cases, deaths: report MORE on Friday said he will investigate allegations that former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchAmerica's diplomats deserve our respect House 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 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 GiulianiGoogle to spend .5 million in fight against coronavirus misinformation Hillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes 0M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike 12 things to know today about coronavirus 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 TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders 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 MaddowMaddow hits Trump's 'happy talk' on virus: 'I would stop putting those briefings on live TV' New York City reports 923 coronavirus cases, 10 deaths Biden faces tricky test in unifying party 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 BidenOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims The Memo: Scale of economic crisis sends shudders through nation The Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention 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.