The FBI paid a visit to Republican congressional candidate Robert Hyde’s Connecticut home and business on Thursday, a senior law enforcement official said.
The agent’s visit comes days after the House Intelligence Committee released texts Hyde sent an associate of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani suggesting he was surveilling then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
A spokesperson for the FBI field office in New Haven, Connecticut declined to comment. Hyde did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
One of Hyde’s neighbors told NBC News that an FBI agent arrived at Hyde’s home before dawn and parked out front in a gray SUV. The neighbor said they believed the FBI agent did not enter Hyde’s home and left by 10:30 a.m. Hyde has a “No Trespassing” sign on his property and a sign indicating security cameras are in operation, the neighbor said.
Hyde told NBC News earlier this week that he was drunk and unserious when he sent the texts to Giuliani’s now-indicted associate Lev Parnas. In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday, Parnas called Hyde a “weird” character he met at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and doubted that Hyde was actually surveilling Yovanovitch.
“Well, I don’t believe it’s true,” he said of Hyde’s claims of tracking Yovanovitch. “I think he was either drunk or he was trying to make himself bigger than he was, so I didn’t take it seriously.”
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A onetime landscaper, Hyde sent messages to Parnas indicating he was tracking Yovanovitch’s movements in Kyiv prior to her ouster as ambassador in May. Giuliani was pushing for Yovanovitch’s ouster because she was seen as an impediment to having Ukraine announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Democrats.
“They are moving her tomorrow,” Hyde said in a message to Parnas on March 25.
“She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off,” he said in another text. “She’s next to the embassy. Not in the embassy.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., called the text exchanges “profoundly alarming.”
“The messages suggest a possible risk to Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s security in Kyiv before she was recalled from her post last year,” Engel said. “These threats occurred at the same time that the two men were also discussing President Trump’s efforts, through Rudy Giuliani, to smear the ambassador’s reputation.”
Yovanovitch’s attorney, Lawrence Robbins, called for an investigation into the allegations Tuesday. Connecticut GOP Chairman J.R. Romano asked Hyde to end his campaign, saying his “antics” are a distraction.
Hyde has run into legal trouble in the past, having his guns taken away in June because of a protection order against him, The Associated Press reported.
A former Marine, Hyde began donating to Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee in Sept. 2016, sometimes writing multiple checks a day.
The donations appear to have gotten him entry into Trump’s orbit. He has tweeted pictures and videos with the president at various events and posted pictures with the president’s adult children and various other Trump associates.
Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.
Anna Schecter, Mary Pflum and Josh Lederman contributed.