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Republicans break with Robert Hyde, latest player in Ukraine drama

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“I have asked Rob Hyde to end his bid for Congress,” the chairman, J.R. Romano, wrote on Twitter. “His campaign is a distraction for the Democrats to raise money and falsely label all Republicans with his antics. In my view he is not helping other Republican candidates or @realDonaldTrump win.”

Hyde, who isn’t shy about posting colorful and profanity-laced rants on Twitter and sounds like a mini-Trump at times — was quick to fire back.

“JR RINO should resign from the @CTGOP ASAP,” he tweeted. “Never did anything but rig elections including his own and was a staunch advocate against @realDonaldTrump and still is.”

The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a trove of new evidence in its impeachment inquiry, including text messages between Hyde and Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. The communications appear to show that Hyde was working with Parnas to track Marie Yovanovitch, whom Giuliani was trying to oust as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

“Wow. Can’t believe Trumo [sic] hasn’t fired this bitch,” Hyde wrote in one encrypted message to Parnas. “I’ll get right in that.”

In other exchanges, Hyde appeared to provide continual updates on the physical whereabouts of Yovanovitch, who was abruptly recalled from Ukraine amid concerns about her safety. Yovanovitch testified in the impeachment inquiry last year that she felt frightened when she read the rough transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president, in which he called her “bad news” and said she would “go through some things.” Yovanovitch’s attorney has called for an investigation into the communications between Hyde and Parnas.

“She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off,” Hyde wrote in one message to Parnas. He followed up with other messages informing Parnas that “She’s next to the embassy” and “Not in the embassy.”

Hyde has dismissed the conversations as nothing more than idle talk with a “buddy” and maintains that he has never even been to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. Hyde tweeted that he would have more “extensive comments” on the matter at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Hyde’s social media is littered with videos and photos of him posing with Trump and scores of other top Republicans, including McCarthy — something Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quick to point out during a speech on the House floor on Wednesday.

McCarthy’s office, however, said the minority leader is “frequently stopped to take pictures with folks” and has “taken thousands” of photos. In one of the videos Hyde posted to social media — which he says was taken at the World Series — McCarthy doesn’t appear to know the candidate’s name.

“He doesn’t know this individual, nor has he received any support from him,” a spokesman for McCarthy said. “We don’t support his candidacy.”

It’s not the first time Hyde, a Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq war, has been engulfed in a political firestorm. He tweeted — and then deleted — a sexist remark about Sen. Kamala Harris dropping out of the presidential race in December, prompting a rebuke from the Connecticut Republican Party.

“The CT GOP is refunding donations provided by Mr. Rob Hyde in light of his vile comments on Twitter,” the state party’s official account tweeted at the time.

The House GOP’s campaign arm does not get involved in primaries, but it has not promoted Hyde in any way or added him to its “Young Guns” or “Patriot” programs. And Republicans on Capitol Hill have been eager to put some space between themselves and Hyde in the wake of the latest controversy.

“I have no idea who the guy is,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), one of Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill. “If he’s running for office in Connecticut as a Republican, we have to question his judgment.”

Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.

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