Ukraine investigates US ambassador surveillance claim; Giuliani ally implicates Trump

(AP) - Ukrainian police say they have opened an investigation into the possibility that the former U.S. ambassador came under illegal surveillance before she was recalled from her post.

In this Oct. 11, 2019, file photo, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The announcement Thursday came two days after Democratic lawmakers released a trove of documents that show Lev Parnas, an associate of President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, communicating about the removal of Marie Yovanovitch as ambassador.

Her firing was a focus of the inquiry that led to Trump's impeachment.

The Ukrainian ministry said police “are not interfering in the internal political affairs of the United States” but looking into “possible violations of Ukrainian law."

Parnas made several potentially explosive claims in a televised interview Wednesday, including that Trump was directly involved in the effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.

He said he delivered an ultimatum in May to the incoming president of Ukraine that no senior U.S. officials would attend his inauguration and vital American security aid to the war-torn country would be withheld if an investigation into Biden wasn’t announced.

“President Trump knew exactly what was going on," Parnas said.

If true, his account undercuts a key Republican defense of the president during the impeachment investigation - that Trump’s withholding of vital military aid to Ukraine last summer wasn’t a quid pro quo for Biden investigations.

Parnas also says Attorney General William Barr knew about his efforts in Ukraine. A Justice Department spokeswoman called such claims “false.”

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