WASHINGTON — The Ukraine ambassador ousted by the Donald Trump administration is calling for an investigation into whether she was placed under surveillance by the president's allies, following the release of new evidence from House committees involved in the impeachment inquiry.
Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled from her position after she was targeted in what impeachment witnesses described as a "smear campaign" by Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, considers the new evidence "disturbing," according to her lawyer.
The committees released documents they received from a Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas, who faces campaign finance charges. Parnas' documents included screenshots of WhatsApp messages with Republican candidate for Congress Robert Hyde, in which the two appear to discuss surveillance of Yovanovitch in Ukraine.
"Needless to say, the notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch's movements for unknown purposes is disturbing," Yovanovitch's lawyer Lawrence Robbins said in a statement on her behalf.
"We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation to determine what happened," Robbins told USA TODAY.
The new documents show that in March, Parnas sent Hyde articles critical of Yovanovitch, to which Hyde responded, "Wow. can't believe Trumo [sic] hasn't fired this b****."
Hyde sent a series of messages suggesting he had hired people in Ukraine to physically monitor the ambassador, referring to "the guys over there." Hyde updated Parnas on what he said was Yovanovitch's location in March of 2019.
"They know she's a political puppet," Hyde wrote. "They will let me know when she's on the move."
"Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money...what I was told," Hyde also said to Parnas.
The documents also appear to show that Giuliani and Parnas knew Yovanovitch would be removed before it happened last year.
"He fired her again," Giuliani texted Parnas on April 23. Parnas responded, "I pray it happens this time. I'll call you tomorrow my brother."
Reached by CNN, Hyde said that there was "No effing way" he was offering to harm Yovanovitch. He also posted on his campaign Facebook page, dismissing the document release as "laughable."
"I was never in Kiev," he wrote. "For them to take some texts my buddy's and I wrote back to some dweeb we were playing with that we met a few times while we had a few drinks is definitely laughable."
Hyde went on to offer his email password and phone to investigators, saying, "These are bad people, I'm out to expose their actions. Attack me all you want, get the facts first."
Trump was impeached by the House on articles of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress last month.The House is expected to vote Wednesday on sending the articles to the Senate, where the trial is expected to begin Tuesday.
The committee chairmen – Reps. Adam Schiff of California at the Intelligence Committee, Jerry Nadler of New York at Judiciary, Carolyn Maloney of New York at Oversight, and Eliot Engel of New York at Foreign Affairs – had said they would continue to investigate Trump after the Dec. 18 vote to impeach the president.
Trump is accused of pressuring Ukraine to open investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, an effort that the new documents show Parnas had a hand in. House Democrats believe Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine as leverage for announcing the investigations that would benefit Trump politically.
Trump has defended himself by saying that he was concerned about corruption in Ukraine, and said he expects to be exonerated in the Senate.
Giuliani previously acknowledged he "forced" Yovanovitch out, and Yovanovitch testified behind closed doors in the impeachment investigation that Giuliani amplified false narratives about her, including that she was taking actions to undermine Trump's administration.
She said people in the Ukrainian government told her Giuliani was in touch with a former Ukrainian prosecutor general, "and that they had plans, and that they were going to, you know, do things, including to me."
Contributing: Nicholas Wu and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine: Marie Yovanovitch wants investigation into surveillance