Trump donor allegedly spying on Ukraine ambassador was ‘drunk all the time’, Giuliani associate says

Businessman dismisses Republican activist's claims about tracking ambassador

Conrad Duncan
Thursday 16 January 2020 11:13 GMT
Trump donor allegedly spying on Ukraine ambassador 'was drunk all the time'

An associate of Rudy Giuliani has claimed the Trump donor who allegedly spied on former US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was “drunk all the time”.

In an explosive interview with MSNBC, Lev Parnas, an associate of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, dismissed suggestions that Republican activist Robert Hyde was tracking the movements of Ms Yovanovitch.

Documents released by Congress on Tuesday suggested the former US ambassador to Ukraine, who was ousted by Mr Trump in May 2019, had been placed under surveillance, prompting calls for an investigation into Mr Hyde’s alleged actions.

However, Mr Parnas has told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow he doubted the credibility of the Trump donor’s claims.

“I don’t believe it’s true, I think he was either drunk or he was trying to make himself bigger than he was so I didn’t take it seriously,” Mr Parnas said.

Ms Maddow then pushed him on that explanation by noting his conversations with Mr Hyde took place over a number of days.

“It wasn’t like one drunk night – this went for seven days. He couldn’t have been drunk the whole time,” she said.

“Oh no, he is. He was drunk the whole time,” Mr Parnas replied, laughing.

“He wakes up and he’s drunk, he starts at 6… I mean, I’ve never seen him not drunk.”

In text messages released by Congress, Mr Hyde can be seen telling the Giuliani associate he had unnamed sources who could “let [him] know when she [Ms Yovanovitch] is on the move” and suggested he knew when the ambassador's phone and computer were turned off.

The former ambassador’s lawyer responded to the claim by calling for an investigation into Mr Hyde.

“The notion that American citizens and others were monitoring ambassador Yovanovitch's movements for unknown purposes is disturbing,” the lawyer said in a statement.

Ms Yovanovitch became a key figure in the impeachment inquiry of Mr Trump after she was removed from her position following a smear campaign against her by allies of the president.

It has been suggested that the ambassador was removed because she would have blocked attempts by the Trump administration to pressure Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, into announcing an investigation into 2020 candidate Joe Biden.

Mr Parnas, who has been indicted for campaign finance violations, said on Wednesday that “the only motivation” for removing Ms Yovanovitch was to stop her from blocking an investigation.

The associate also implicated Mr Trump and senior members of his administration, such as vice president Mike Pence and attorney general William Barr, in the Ukraine scandal which has become the basis for the president’s impeachment.

He said Mr Trump “knew exactly what was going on” with the alleged scheme and insisted Mr Giuliani was never investigating corruption in Ukraine.

The president and Mr Giuliani have both denied wrongdoing, as have Mr Pence and Mr Barr.

Mr Hyde has dismissed the allegations against him as “laughable” and said he will provide his email password and phone to investigators if needed.

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