Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch said during her closed-door testimony on October 11 as part of House Democrats’ impeachment probe that she did not know if her staff monitored Donald Trump, Jr. and other conservative figures on social media, a recently released transcript shows.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) ran through a list of names of mostly conservative media figures’ names and asked if her staff was monitoring them.
The names included: Jack [Posobiec]; DonaId Trump, Jr.; Laura Ingraham; Sean Hannity; Michael McFaul; Dan Bongino; Ryan [Saavedra]; Rudy Giuliani; Sebastian Gorka; John Solomon; Lou Dobbs; Pam Gellar; and Sara Carter.
Yovanovitch said she did not know if they were monitored, but said that just because she did not know, did not mean a request was not made.
“Can I just say that just because I don’t know doesn’t mean that a request wasn’t made. There’s, you know, lots of people doing this,” she said.
Perry also asked if she promoted using the search terms: Yovanovitch, Ukraine ambassador, Ukraine Soros, or Ukraine Biden. Yovanovich said she did not know.
Perry asked her to explain how “any of this following or searching” would be related to her official duties as ambassador. Her attorney, Larry Robbins, jumped in: “That, of course, assumes that any of that happened.”
However, during her testimony, Yovanovitch admitted that her staff was monitoring press reports and social media, and that after a negative report about her, she asked for help from the State Department in Washington to help her staff with around-the-clock monitoring.
Yovanovitch said she was “not sure” when she made the request, but it after a March 20, 2019, the Hill article in which Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said she had given him a “do not prosecute list” during their first meeting.
“So was it directly related to the negative publicity that you were getting this request?” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) asked.
“It was related to the news blowing up around us,” she responded.
She said she spoke with Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau George Kent “maybe once or twice” about it.
“I felt that our staff in Kyiv was really being kind of run ragged, and could we get some more assistance,” she said. She said Washington ended up not assisting in the monitoring since they did not have the resources.
Yovanovitch described the monitoring as routine:
All the press section did was look at, you know, what does the New York Times publish, the Wall Street Journal publish about Ukraine or U.S. bilateral relations with Ukraine, that sort of thing. And now with the advent of social media, obviously there are many other kinds of outlets that are reviewed for, you know, what’s out there in the news, what do we know, what do we need to take action on, et cetera.
Meadows called the monitoring “extraordinary.”
But House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who was running the deposition, defended the monitoring.
“If you’re just talking about what is the press section following in terms of what newspapers and what columns, whatever, I don’t really think that’s generally described as monitoring, but the witness can certainly answer to the best of her ability,” he said.
Conservative watch dog group Judicial Watch first reported that the monitoring of conservative figures was happening.
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