WASHINGTON (CN) — Congressional candidate Robert Hyde's defense to explain away texts appearing to show him scheming to covertly surveil a U.S. ambassador in Ukraine took a hit late Friday night, as the House Judiciary Committee released more encrypted text attachments to his messages from Lev Parnas.
One showed a picture of ousted Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch next to the message: “My contacts are checking.”
“I will give you the address next week,” the message, from an unidentified number from Belgium, continued.
“Awesome,” the reply reads.
Hyde confirmed in a video message posted on Twitter that a Trump supporter named Anthony de Caluwe was the person he texted to, but said he passed on the messages to Parnas as "just copy and paste bullshit."
The revelation could amplify concerns about possible threats to the safety of Yovanovitch, who was unceremoniously yanked from her Ukrainian post on April 24, 2019, following a smear campaign.
Yovanovitch’s attorney Larry Robbins declined comment.
The House Foreign Affairs committee opened an investigation after apparent threats to Ambassador Yovanovitch’s safety surfaced earlier this week, in an initial batch of text messages between Parnas and Hyde. Parnas, who is under federal indictment in New York, pleaded not guilty to campaign finance violations in October.
In his debut interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow this week, Parnas claimed he did not take Hyde’s messages seriously.
“I think he was either drunk or he was trying to make himself bigger than he was, so I didn't take it seriously, and I was trying to – if you see, I didn’t respond most of the time,” Parnas told Maddow.
Hyde cited his fondness for alcohol as a defense in a tweet, after his messages were released.
“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 tweeted on Tuesday night.
Hyde, whose home and office received a visit from the FBI on Thursday, did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Another batch of documents released Friday shows Parnas’ conversations with Derek Harvey, an aide to the House Intelligence Committee’s top Republican Devin Nunes.
The House’s impeachment report first exposed phone records showing Nunes on the phone with Parnas, The Hill’s John Solomon, and Rudy Giuliani, around the time of a smear campaign to oust Yovanovitch from her Ukrainian post.
This effort came to a head in late March 2019, as The Hill started running a series of unfounded editorials from which the outlet has since distanced itself.
Like Trump and many of his loyalists, Nunes played down his association with Parnas after the phone records were released, but the text messages released today confirm that the flamboyant California Republican’s aide was in steady communication with Parnas during that critical time.
In late March, Harvey asked Parnas for materials to validate his unsubstantiated theory that U.S. aid to Ukraine was being “grafted” by Ukrainian officials in exchange for donations to the “Clinton Foundation or other social justice causes.”
Enthusiastically agreeing to help, Parnas replied that he needed to see how he would get the materials to Harvey.
Parnas responded the next day with a video by Solomon. After Parnas was silent for the next four days, Harvey checked back in with his contact.
“Any documents for us or are you going to keep working through Solomon?” Harvey asked.
Harvey and Parnas also tried to set up meetings over Skype and at the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. Parnas also shared multiple articles, an Excel spreadsheet and PDF documents.
He also shared the resume for a Ukrainian prosecutor who probed the Ukrainian gas company on whose board Hunter Biden, the son of Trump's political rival, sat.
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