Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

October 11, 2019 – U.S. Ambassador Yovanovitch orders embassy staffers in Ukraine to monitor American citizens via social media and other means

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch arrives for a closed-door deposition on October 11, 2019. (Credit: Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

“Judicial Watch has obtained information indicating that Yovanovitch, an Obama appointee, ordered embassy staffers in Ukraine to target certain U.S. persons online using the following search terms: “Biden, Giuliani, Soros, and Yovanovitch.”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) first raised the possibility that conservative journalists were being monitored last Wednesday on Fox News, telling host Sean Hannity that Yovanovitch had made a number of “strange” and “irregular” requests to monitor their communications.

He said that a number of Ukrainians and officials in the State Department had raised concerns about the ambassador which is why Trump ordered her removal.

According to Judicial Watch, she had created a list of individuals who were to be monitored via social media and other means, and Ukraine embassy staff submitted 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.

(…) The conservative figures allegedly unlawfully monitored by the State Department in Ukraine at the request of Yovanovitch include:

Jack Posobiec
Donald Trump Jr.
Laura Ingraham
Sean Hannity
Michael McFaul (Obama’s ambassador to Russia)
Dan Bongino
Ryan Saavedra
Rudy Giuliani
Sebastian Gorka
John Solomon
Lou Dobbs
Pamella Geller
Sara Carter

(Read more: American Greatness, 10/15/2019)  (Archive)

October 11, 2019 – Judicial Watch: Former Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testimony reveals she ordered State Dept. subordinates 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.

(…) The prominent conservative figures — journalists and persons with ties to President Donald Trump — allegedly unlawfully monitored by the State Department in Ukraine at the request of ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch include:

Jack Posobiec

Donald Trump Jr.

Laura Ingraham

Sean Hannity

Michael McFaul (Obama’s ambassador to Russia)

Dan Bongino

Ryan Saavedra

Rudy Giuliani

Sebastian Gorka

John Solomon

Lou Dobbs

Pamella Geller

Sara Carter

Judicial Watch continues its investigation of these matters and will update its reporting as the situation unfolds.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 10/18/2019)

UPDATE: The Yovanovitch transcript was released and she was questioned about Crowdtangle during her deposition against President Trump on October 11, 2019. She claims to be unaware of the software while pointing to the State Department as being responsible for monitoring social media accounts.

The discussion begins on page 92 of  the Yovanovich transcript:

(Yovanovich Transcript, 10/11/2019)

December 23, 2016 – Documents reveal Obama State Dept official Jonathan Winer, in contact with Russian embassy ‘Political Chief’ one month before Trump inauguration

Alexy Skosyrev appears at the 12th congress on European Security and Defence in Berlin, October 2013. (Credit: The Robert Schuman Foundation)

Judicial Watch and The Daily Caller News Foundation today released eight pages of State Department documents revealing that on December 23, 2016, 28 days before the inauguration of President Donald Trump, State Department Special Coordinator for Libya Jonathan Winer had a 10-minute phone call with Alexey Vladimirovich Skosyrev, the “political chief” at the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC.

The documents also show that State Department officials continued to use unsecure BlackBerry devices for the transmission of classified material more than a year after Hillary Clinton’s use of an unsecure, non-government email system had been revealed.

Following Winer’s December 23 call with Russian political operative Skosyrev, State Department official Anne Sackville-West provides a “read-out” of the call to department colleagues in which she updates the “S-Lavrov points” (Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov). The body of the read-out is entirely redacted as classified for reasons of national security or foreign policy. Despite the classification, Eric Green, then-director of the Office of Russian Affairs in the Eurasian Bureau of the State Department, forwarded the exchange via his unsecure BlackBerry to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Kathleen Kavalec, to Obama Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Ambassador Victoria Nuland, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary John Heffern. Kavalec then responds, saying “Jonathan called me after first trying to get through to Toria and John. He relayed this readout, noting that Skosyrev emphasized that [redacted].”

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, John Heffern (Credit: public domain)

“The State Department has still not fully explained its role in collecting and disseminating Christopher Steele’s false allegations about President Trump’s ties to Russia,” said Daily Caller News Foundation President Neil Patel. “The latest documents obtained by Judicial Watch on behalf of The Daily Caller News Foundation raise new and important questions about the role played by Jonathan Winer, who played a key role as Steele’s conduit to U.S. diplomats.”

“The Kerry State Department and Jonathan Winer worked hand-in-glove with the Clinton Fusion GPS spy Christopher Steele. It is suspicious, to say the least, that Winer was in contact with a senior Russian government official as the Kerry State Department was simultaneously pushing the Russia smear against then President-elect Trump,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Judicial Watch uncovered State Department documents showing that Winer played a key role in facilitating Steele’s access to other top government officials, prominent international business executives. Winer was even approached by a movie producer about making a movie about the Russiagate targeting of President Trump. In September 2019, Judicial Watch released State Department documents revealing that former British spy and dossier author Christopher Steele had an extensive and close working relationship dating back to May of 2014 with Winer and Nuland.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 10/31/2019)