FBI Visits Home Of Trump Donor Who Sent Menacing Texts About Yovanovitch

Former US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill on Novemb... Former US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill on November 15, 2019 in Washington DC. - Public impeachment hearings resume Friday with the testimony of former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who says she was ousted because the Trump administration believed she would not go along with plans to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden, a potential Trump White House rival in 2020. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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January 16, 2020 11:41 a.m.

FBI investigators on Thursday reportedly visited the home and business of Robert Hyde, the Trump donor and congressional candidate who sent menacing texts to Lev Parnas about then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

CNN first reported the news Thursday:

NBC News confirmed the visits but reported, citing an unnamed law enforcement official, that the visits were not done to enforce a court-authorized search.

“There is no information that can be shared at this time,” Charles Grady, a spokesperson in the FBI’s New Haven office, told TPM in an email.

In March 2019, Hyde claimed in messages to Parnas to have “a person inside” who was watching the Yovanovitch. The ambassador was the target of a smear campaign led by Parnas and Rudy Giuliani and, later, the target of attacks by President Donald Trump.

“She under heavy protection outside Kyiv,” Hyde wrote to Parnas in March, adding a few days later: “They are moving her tomorrow.”

“They are willing to help if we/you would like a price,” he texted Parnas later that day, March 25. “Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with the money… what I was told.”

“Lol,” Parnas responded.

After the records were released publicly, Yovanovitch’s attorney said she hoped the matter would be investigated. And Ukrainian officials announced Thursday that they were investigating possible surveillance of Yovanovitch.

Both Parnas and Hyde have downplayed the texts. In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Wednesday, Parnas said “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.”

Hyde described the messages to an NBC reporter as “some texts my buddy’s and I wrote while we had a few drinks to some dweeb I met a few times.” And in an interview with Eric Bolling on Sinclair TV Wednesday, Hyde said he was not surveilling Yovanovitch

“We just sent some colorful texts, had a few pops way back when I used to drink,” he said.

“It was just colorful, we were playing,” Hyde said later of his relationship with Parnas. “I thought we were playing. I didn’t know he was so serious.”

Bolling asked whether Hyde had “eyes on Marie Yovanovitch.”

“Absolutely not, are you kidding me? I’m a little landscaper from fucking Connecticut,” Hyde replied. “Excuse my language. Come on. You know me Eric. I believe I was in Ecuador while we were WhatsApping each other.”

In his interview with Maddow Wednesday, Parnas said he didn’t think Hyde posed a threat. He claimed that Hyde was “drunk the whole time” and that “he wakes up drunk.”

“So it’s clear that you didn’t take Mr. Hyde seriously in terms of the factual claims that he was making,” Maddow asked at one point. “But are you clear whether or not there was ever an actual physical threat or a threat of personal intimidation against ambassador Yovanovitch?”

“Never from my side or anybody I knew,” Parnas responded.

He added later, laughing: “I definitely didn’t believe Mr. Hyde.”

Still, Parnas claimed to have cut off contact with Hyde after receiving texts from him about Yovanovich for several days. When the messages about Yovanovitch got more threatening, Parnas told Maddow, he asked a mutual contact about Hyde — an official at the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action. Both Parnas and Hyde had donated to the group.

“I said is this guy off the loonies?” Parnas recalled. “And he told me that, ‘stay away from him.'”

“He’s just got into something with I think Greg Pence, Mike Pence’s brother, thinking that Secret Service is after him and somebody wants to kill him,” Parnas recalled hearing about Hyde.

“I don’t know exactly what happened,” he continued. “But once he started texting me that, that was the end of our relationship.”

Mother Jones on Tuesday night reported on police records of an incident at the Trump National Doral Miami resort that echoed Parnas’ claims. In May, a couple months after Hyde sent the menacing texts to Parnas, police visited Trump Doral to deal with a “male in distress fearing for his life.”

Hyde reportedly claimed to police that he feared for his life and that the Secret Service had hacked his computer. The police records reflect that Hyde was involuntarily committed to a redacted location.

This post has been updated.

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