U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the State Department will investigate whether former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was in any danger while she was in Ukraine.
Pompeo made the statement on January 17, just days after documents were released indicating that Yovanovitch, who was recalled in May 2019, may have been under surveillance in Kyiv, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
The documents indicated that Lev Parnas, a Ukraine-born U.S. citizen who has been indicted on campaign-finance charges, helped U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, try to find incriminating material against former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
The documents also show Connecticut Republican congressional candidate Robert Hyde disparaging Yovanovitch in messages to Parnas and giving him updates on her location and mobile-phone use, raising concerns about possible surveillance.
Trump is now facing an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate on charges of illegally withholding aid to Ukraine to pressure Kyiv to investigate the Bidens and of obstructing the congressional investigation into the Ukraine matter.
Some of the documents that Parnas released suggested that Yovanovitch may have been under threat.
"We will do everything we need to do to evaluate whether there was something that took place," Pompeo said during a radio interview. "I suspect that much of what has 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 said he did not know and had never met Parnas.
Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled last spring after being told by the State Department that she was in unspecified danger, according to testimony she gave during the U.S. House investigation into the matter in November.
Her recall came after a months-long effort by Trump's allies to have Yovanovitch, who was seen as blocking a possible Biden investigation, removed.
On January 16, officials in Ukraine announced they would launch a criminal investigation into the information that Yovanovitch may have been under surveillance.