Who Is Robert Hyde, And What Does He Have To Do With Ukraine?

Jan 17, 2020
Originally published on January 17, 2020 8:08 pm
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says U.S. officials are looking into a little-known Republican congressional candidate from a small town in Connecticut. Robert Hyde is his name. It was revealed this week that Hyde had been in contact with a Rudy Giuliani associate who was allegedly digging up dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine.

So NPR's Bobby Allyn joins us from Simsbury, Conn., where he's been looking into Hyde. Welcome to the program.

BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Hey, Audie.

CORNISH: Let's just start with who he is. I understand he's run for office. What have you learned about Hyde himself?

ALLYN: So Rob Hyde is a 40-year-old former landscaper. He once served in the Marines. On social media, he's bombastic, he's brash. He adores Donald Trump. His social media is absolutely full of selfies of him posing with members of the Trump family and other Republican strategists. And he pumps a lot of money into the Trump campaign. But where he gets that money is largely unknown. Like you said, he has a congressional bid that he has started to unseat an incumbent here in Connecticut, but most people I talked to have never heard of him.

CORNISH: In fact, you went to his house, right? What did you see?

ALLYN: I did. I went to his house, and I knocked on his door. He wasn't there. Outside, there was an American flag and a Marine flag flying above. And right in front of his house, too, was a number of national network cameras directed at his door. So he probably doesn't want to go anywhere near his house now because many people are interested in him.

But I started to walk around Simsbury, Conn., to find others who might know something about this guy. And I found Michael Gerrard. He's a local construction worker. And I said, hey, did you know this guy Rob Hyde's running for Congress? Here's what Michael Gerrard said.

MICHAEL GERRARD: I've never heard his name mentioned, honestly. And I've been in this town my entire life for 48 years, so...

CORNISH: A lot of question marks there in town. But the thing is, I understand Hyde is speaking out, right? What has he had to say about Ukraine?

ALLYN: So as soon as I got here, I started texting with him to see if he would meet up. And he didn't. He did say to me, do you like cigars? And then he sort of disappeared. A day later, he popped back up on his own Twitter page, posting a video about some of the allegations centered on him now - chiefly that he was surveilling former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Let's hear a little bit from his video.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROBERT HYDE: Are you kidding? Like I have anybody over in the Ukraine - are you serious? I'm a landscaper from Simsbury, Conn., that's trying to get into the government relations, public relations world - lobbying world, whatever you want to call it.

ALLYN: And obviously now he is very much at the center of a new world, which is the Trump impeachment world. And from all the people I talked to, being connected to the Ukraine scandal hasn't done much to rescue his longshot congressional bid from obscurity.

CORNISH: As you said, he's very much connected now to this Trump impeachment scandal. Just remind us the open questions that are left, even ones that are being raised by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

ALLYN: So there is a tranche of documents released recently which put Rob Hyde's name into the Ukraine picture. Basically, he was texting with an associate of Rudy Giuliani about former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. And this Rob Hyde guy in Connecticut says he knew where she was at any given time. He was tracking her movements. He knew when she was by the embassy, away from the embassy. He knew when her phone was on or off. And this raised the question, wait, was she being secretly surveilled from somebody connected to Giuliani? That is a question. We don't know the answer to it for sure.

Mike Pompeo today said he wants to get to the bottom of it. He sounded very skeptical in a interview that he did, saying he kind of doesn't think what has been reported is true but that the State Department is now looking into it.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Bobby Allyn.

Thanks for your reporting.

ALLYN: Thanks, Audie.

(SOUNDBITE OF COURTNEY BARNETT'S "DEPRESTON") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.