Robert Hyde with President Donald Trump.
Source: Robert Hyde Campaign
FBI agents on Thursday visited the Connecticut home and landscaping business of Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate whose purported surveillance of the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine last year has become an issue in the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
The visits came on the same day that Ukraine officials said they had opened an investigation of Hyde’s claims to Lev Parnas, a then-associate of Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, that he was tracking the movements of American ambassador Marie Yovanovitch last year when she was still posted in Kyiv.
Parnas and Giuliani last year were engaged in an effort to oust Yovanovitch as part of a broader push to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the current front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The Senate on Thursday began its impeachment trial of Trump. The House of Representatives a month earlier impeached the president in connection with his witholding of congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine while he was pressuring that country’s new president to announce a probe of Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukraine gas company.
An FBI spokesman in New Haven confirmed the visits to Hyde’s home in Simsbury, and his business in Avon on Thursday morning, after they first were reported by CNN.
Hyde’s congressional campaign is headquarted in the same office as his landscaping company.
A message for Hyde, 40, left by CNBC was not immediately returned.
A senior law enforcement official told NBC News that the visits were not to conduct a court-authorized search but did not elaborate on the FBI’s reason for the visit.
A neighbor of Hyde told NBC that one FBI agent arrived at Hyde residence before dawn and parked on the street in front of the home.
The neighbor spoke to the FBI agent and said to the best of his knowledge, the agent did not enter Hyde’s home.
Hyde’s communications with Parnas over the text messaging service WhatsApp were disclosed in a set of documents released Tuesday by House Democrats as part of the impeachment process. Parnas, who has been criminally charged with campaign finance violations, turned over those documents to the House.
In a March 23 text message to Parnas, Hyde had written of Yovanovitch, “Wow. Can’t believe Trumo [sic] hasn’t fired this b—-. I’ll get right in that.
“She [sic] under heavy protection outside Kiev,” Hyde texted.
He went on to describe Yovanovitch’s location, her communications and her security level.
“They are moving her tomorrow,” Hyde wrote Parnas on May 25.
Later that same day, Hyde texted: “She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off.”
And then, “She’s next to the embassy.”
Hyde has denied spying on Yovanovitch, saying his comments in text messages to Parnas about her alleged movements were made in jest and while he was drinking alcohol.
Hyde, in a Sinclair Media interview that aired Wednesday, said, “I thought we were playing.”
“It’s kind of unfortunate the left had to get their panties in a bunch,” Hyde said.
But House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-New York, on Wednesday demanded documents from the State Department related to any possible threats that Hyde posed to Yovanovitch, who had been recalled from Kyiv in May.
In a letter to Under Secretary of State Brian Bulatao, Engel wrote, “Mr. Hyde claimed in one message to have ‘a person inside,’ presumably in the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, who is ‘willing to help if we/you would like a price.’ “
“The strong implication from these messages is that someone with detailed knowledge of the Ambassador’s whereabouts and security protocols was providing that information in real time to Mr. Hyde,” Engel wrote.
“I cannot overstate the profound security risk that this poses to the U.S. mission and our interests in Ukraine.”
Parnas, in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday, called Hyde a “weird” man whom he first met at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Parnas said in the same interview that he did not believe that Hyde was actually surveilling.
“I think he was either drunk or he was trying to make himself bigger than he was, so I didn’t take it seriously,” Parnas said.
The Associated Press, citing Simsbury police records, has reported that Hyde had to give authorities several rifles, shotguns, and almost 400 rounds of ammunition because of a protective order.
NBC News reported Thursday night that although Hyde has claimed that he served in Iraq as a Marine, and that he was deployed to North Korea, “Records provided … the Marine Corps show that Hyde served in the Marine Reserve for six years and won numerous medals, but they make no mention of deployments in Iraq or North Korea.”
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano urged Hyde to end his congressional campaign.
“His campaign is a distraction for the Democrats to raise money and falsely label all Republicans with his antics,” Romano tweeted.
Source: U.S. News