RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
There's a new name in the Ukraine scandal, Robert F. Hyde. Last year, he sent a text to an associate of Rudy Giuliani. Quote, "They will let me know when she's on the move," end quote. The she is then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Hyde's messages are among the documents handed over by that Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas, to House lawmakers. The House released the records of texts and other messages this week. And that exchange suggests that Hyde had been secretly tracking the movements of Yovanovitch. His comments are drawing even more questions around a phone call Yovanovitch got from the State Department before she was ordered to leave her post.
(SOUNDBITE OF HEARING)
MARIE YOVANOVITCH: She said, I needed to get - come home immediately, get on the next plane to the U.S. And I asked her why. And she said she wasn't sure, but there were concerns about my security.
MARTIN: The FBI went to Hyde's home and business yesterday. So let's try to learn something about who this man is, Robert Hyde, and how he fits into the impeachment saga. Joining us now - Daniela Altimari. She's a reporter for the Hartford Courant. Daniela, thanks for being with us.
DANIELA ALTIMARI: Sure.
MARTIN: So the FBI goes to Hyde's home and business. Do we know, was it a raid? What were they looking for?
ALTIMARI: We're not sure. We do know they went there, and we don't know what they did. We don't know if they searched the home, if they searched the business, if they took anything out of there.
MARTIN: Or was he there?
ALTIMARI: It appears that he was not there. It appears he was perhaps out of state.
MARTIN: OK. So let's talk about who he is. How does Robert Hyde know Lev Parnas? Again, Lev Parnas is this key associate of Rudy Giuliani's who was working on Giuliani and President Trump's behalf in Ukraine to find political dirt to benefit the president. So having said all that, how is Hyde connected?
ALTIMARI: Well, Hyde in his own words - he describes himself as just a small-town landscaper. He's a former Marine. He's a longshot Republican candidate for Congress from Connecticut. He's also a Republican donor. And that has given him access to this world of powerful people, including, you know, associates of of the president's attorney Rudy Giuliani. He was - Mr. Hyde was a fixture at various Trump properties. Apparently, according to Lev Parnas, he - Mr. Hyde hung out at the bar quite frequently. And he - that sort of gave him access into, drew him into this orbit of powerful people, including, you know, Mr. Parnas.
MARTIN: So you've reported on Hyde in Connecticut. What more do we know about his background there in the state?
ALTIMARI: Well, he wasn't very widely known up until about a month ago, when - you know, again, he's running for Congress as a Republican. But he doesn't appear to have a lot of support. He hasn't raised any money, according to his latest filings. He doesn't have any sort of real campaign infrastructure at this point. But he made his way into the headlines when he sent out a series of tweets about Kamala Harris when she dropped out of the race. They were quite vulgar and offensive. And people on both sides of the aisle really criticized him for this. And many even Republicans urged him to drop out of the race. And, you know, then his name surfaced, you know, now a month later in this new context.
MARTIN: So there are so many more questions to ask about this man. And we'll keep following the story. It is worth noting now that the government in Ukraine has opened its own investigation into allegations that Robert Hyde or anyone else was involved in pressuring and perhaps putting a threat towards the former U.S. ambassador. Reporter Daniela Altimari with Hartford Courant, thanks. We appreciate it.
ALTIMARI: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.