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Pompeo to investigate charges of surveillance against Yovanovitch

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo violated ethics rules, State Dept. watchdog finds Why the US needs to clear the way for international justice Tim Scott to participate in GOP event in Iowa MORE on Friday said he will investigate allegations that former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchBlinken tells State Department staff 'I have your back' Trump has discussed possible pardons for three eldest children, Kushner: report Former Giuliani associates plead not guilty to new fraud charges 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 GiulianiGreitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP Gaetz hires legal counsel amid DOJ probe Georgia lieutenant governor: Giuliani election claims helped lead to new voting law 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 TrumpGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal GOP believes Democrats handing them winning 2022 campaign Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns 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 MaddowOcasio-Cortez eyeing T over 10 years for infrastructure Tucker Carlson: Matt Gaetz sexual allegation interview 'one of weirdest' he's done MSNBC changes branding of live breaking news coverage to 'MSNBC Reports' 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 BidenGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal Obama, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley team up to urge communities of color to get coronavirus vaccine Biden to hold second meeting with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure 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.