As impeachment again comes to dominate the national news, the twists in the story have been wild and unpredictable. But few could have foreseen a role for a mostly unknown congressional candidate from Connecticut who has already been denounced by his party over unrelated events.
A new batch of evidence was released Tuesday in advance of a Senate trial that is expected to begin next week to decide the fate of President Trump following his impeachment in the House of Representatives. While it remains exceedingly unlikely that two-thirds of the Senate would support Trump’s removal, there is plenty that could happen as the proceedings get underway that could have a major impact. That impact could even extend to Connecticut politics.
Showing up in the new evidence was one Robert Hyde, who appears to have worked with Soviet-born businessman Lev Parnas to monitor the movements of Marie Yovanovitch, formerly U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch, of Kent, played a key role in the impeachment hearings, and her removal from her position has led to questions about the president’s foreign policy decisions and whether he was putting his own interests above that of the nation.
What no one has yet explained is how Hyde came to be involved.
According to reporting last year by Hearst Connecticut Media’s Emilie Munson, Hyde, who launched his campaign for the Fifth District congressional seat in August, has presented himself as a member of Trump’s inner circle, and been seen in pictures alongside Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and other prominent Republicans.
That alone would have made him a contender for his party’s nomination this year, but a crude comment on Twitter about Sen. Kamala Harris, who recently dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary, led Connecticut Republicans to denounce Hyde and his candidacy, and refund money he had donated to the state party. Still, Hyde said he would stay in the race to take on first-term Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5.
This week’s news turned what had been a local political story into one of national interest. But there are many more questions than answers.
Hyde’s communications with Parnas, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, are disturbing, seemingly indicating a surveillance of the ambassador and including possible threats to her safety. For his part, Hyde said Tuesday he has never been to the Ukraine capital, and that the messages were just a joke that has been taken out of context.
That explanation makes as much sense as anything at the moment.
State Republicans have rightly distanced themselves from Hyde, and must continue to do so. It’s a different story nationally, where the tens of thousands of dollars Hyde donated to Trump and other Republican causes granted him an audience with top-level officials, including at Trump’s inauguration. His appearance in the newly released Ukraine documents only adds to the intrigue.
As the questions continue to mount, voters in the Fifth District and beyond need answers. And though they had pledged to stay out of the race until the August primary, state Republicans would do well to see that someone else wins the party’s nomination.