JW Investigates if Ousted Ukraine Ambassador Ordered State Dept. to Monitor Journalists, Trump Allies
Judicial Watch is investigating if prominent conservative figures, journalists and persons with ties to President Donald Trump were unlawfully monitored by the State Department in Ukraine at the request of ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, an Obama appointee. Yovanovitch testified “in secret” to the House impeachment inquiry against Trump on Friday, October 11, 2019. Her “secret” testimony was leaked to the New York Times during the hearing.
Judicial Watch has obtained information indicating Yovanovitch may have violated laws and government regulations by ordering subordinates to target certain U.S. persons using State Department resources. Yovanovitch reportedly ordered monitoring keyed to the following search terms: Biden, Giuliani, Soros and Yovanovitch. Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the State Department and will continue gathering facts from government sources.
Prior to being recalled as ambassador to Ukraine in the spring Yovanovitch reportedly created a list of individuals who were to be monitored via social media and other means. Ukraine embassy staff made the request to the Washington D.C. headquarters office of the department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. After several days, Yovanovitch’s staff was informed that the request was illegal and the monitoring either ceased or was concealed via the State Department Global Engagement Center, which has looser restrictions on collecting information.
“This is not an obscure rule, everyone in public diplomacy or public affairs knows they can’t make lists and monitor U.S. citizens unless there is a major national security reason,” according to a senior State Department official. If the illicit operation occurred, it seems to indicate a clear political bias against the president and his supporters. Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who has also led American embassies in Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, was appointed ambassador to Ukraine by Obama in 2016. She was recalled by the State Department in May and remains a State Department employee in Washington D.C.
In the public records request to the State Department Judicial Watch asks for any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the monitoring of any U.S.-based journalist, reporter, or media commentator by any employee or office of the Department of State between January 1, 2019 and the present. That includes all records pertaining to the scope of the monitoring to be conducted and individuals subject to it as well as records documenting the information collected pursuant to the monitoring. The FOIA request also asks for all records of communication between any official, employee or representative of the State Department and any other individual or entity.