Donald Trump has been caught on tape appearing to order the firing of then-Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
‘Get rid of her!’ is what a voice that appears to be the president is heard saying on an audio recording reviewed by ABC News. ‘Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.’
The recording was made during an intimate dinner on April 30, 2018 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. that included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman – the two indicted sidekicks of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Parnas and Fruman are heard on the recording – which was reportedly made by Fruman – telling Trump that Yovanovitch is bad-mouthing him. Federal prosecutors have the recording.
On it, Parnas appears to say: ‘The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She’s still left over from the Clinton administration.’
He also says: ‘She’s basically walking around telling everybody ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait,’ he said.
That was when Trump said to get rid of her.
Donald Trump has been caught on tape appearing to order the firing of then-Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch
Marie Yovanovitch said she was recalled because of stories she wasn’t loyal to President Trump
Rudy Giuliani associated Igor Furman and Les Parnas were at the fundraising dinner where the recording was made
Trump’s allies jumped to his defense.
Republican Congressman Jim Jordan told reporters on Capitol Hill the president had the right to recall any ambassador he wished to.
Vice President Mike Pence made the same argument.
‘I have not heard the tape and would not be prepared to comment on it,’ Pence told reporters traveling with him in Italy. ‘All of the ambassadors for the United States of America serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States.’
Yovanovitch – who has served as ambassador to several countries and was first appointed to such a position by President George W. Bush – wasn’t recalled until a year later in April 2019.
She told lawmakers in her testimony during the impeachment inquiry that she was recalled based on ‘unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives’ that she was disloyal to and undermining the president.
She also said in her testimony she never told embassy staff to disregard orders from the administration because Trump was going to be impeached.
‘I did not and would not say such a thing,’ she said.
The identities of others on the recording are unclear, ABC News reports.
During an early portion of the recording where video is available, Donald Trump Jr. is seen posing for pictures with people.
The event at the president’s hotel that night was an event for The America First Action super PAC – a super PAC supporting Trump’s re-election campaign.
The president and Donald Trump Jr. have denied knowing Parnas, who has been making the media rounds as he seeks a deal with federal prosecutors, saying they only had photos taken with him at fundraisers.
President Trump has repeatedly denied knowing him and did so again last week during a school prayer event in the Oval Office.
‘I don’t know him,’ Trump said. ‘I don’t know Parnas other than I guess I had pictures taken, which I do with thousands of people.’
‘I don’t know him at all, don’t know what he’s about. Don’t know where he comes from. Know nothing about him,’ he said. By one count he denied knowing Parnas 14 times.
Trump Jr. has made similar statements.
‘I met him at fundraiser events,’ Trump Jr. told Fox News earlier this month. ‘He was a donor at a super-PAC, shows up to some of these things like anything else. Honestly, I think it’s funny, I didn’t realize he was Ukrainian. I thought he was Israeli.’
Parnas and his attorney have released photos of Parnas with the president and various members of the Trump family, including Trump Jr. and Ivanka.
Shortly after President Trump’s denials aired last week, Parnas’ attorney released yet another new image of them together, this time a video of them speaking at Mar-a-Lago.
Parnas and Fruman face charges of violating campaign finance law.
Parnas has been on a media tour in recent days to talk about his work in the Ukraine with Giuliani. The White House has accused him of trying to stay out of prison.
The audio was made at a fundraising dinner for Trump’s 2020 campaign on April 30, 2018 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.; Trump, above, is seen at the White House on that date
Trump’s limo ‘The Beast’ at the Trump hotel on the night of the fundraiser
Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and David Correia with Rudy Giuliani in the Trump Hotel Washington D.C.
Have we met? I’m sure we haven’t! President Trump dismissed a photos of him and Parnas as just taken at a fundraiser
The phone that was recording the Trump conversation reviewed by ABC News appears to be placed down on a table with the audio still recording. The president does not appear on the video reviewed by ABC News.
Parnas, when he appeared on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow’s show last week, provided additional details on the campaign to remove Yovanovitch from her post as ambassador because she was impeding efforts to dig up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden.
Parnas expressed regret over his involvement in ousting Yovanovitch, saying: ‘I want to apologize to her.’
He described the scene at the dinner and said Trump turned to John DeStefano, who was his deputy chief of staff at the time, and said ‘Fire her.’
‘We all, there was a silence in the room. He responded to him, said Mr. President, we can’t do that right now because [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo hasn’t been confirmed yet, that Pompeo is not confirmed yet and we don’t have — this is when [former Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was gone, but Pompeo was confirmed, so they go, wait until — so several conversations he mentioned it again,’ Parnas recounted.
Pompeo had actually already been confirmed by the Senate and sworn into office.
A copy of the recording is now in the custody of federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District, ABC News reported, noting both the prosecution team and the White House declined to comment.
Parnas also told Maddow that he was ‘absolutely’ working for the president in his capacity as a legal aide to Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.
Yovanovitch was the focus of text messages between Parnas and prominent Trump donor Robert F Hyde, which were made public on Tuesday.
Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate from Connecticut, repeatedly disparaged Yovanovitch in the messages and implied that she was under surveillance, often referencing her exact physical location.
However, Parnas told Maddow that while he was ‘disturbed’ by Hyde’s messages, he never believed they were serious.
‘I don’t believe it was true, I think he was either drunk or was trying to make himself bigger than he was,’ he said. ‘I didn’t take it seriously, and if you see, I didn’t even respond to it most of the time.’
Maddow questioned whether Hyde could have been drunk throughout their text correspondence, which lasted several days.
Parnas replied: ‘He’s drunk the whole time. He wakes up and he’s drunk. He starts at 6. I’ve never seen him not drunk.’
Hyde himself reacted to the release of the messages on Tuesday night.
He did not dispute the validity of the texts but said he was drinking when he sent the ones about surveilling Yovanovitch.
You sure they didn’t speak Mr. President: Lev Parnas’ attorney released this video of them together at Mar-a-Lago
‘I don’t believe I’ve ever met him.’ The House Intelligence Committee released this photograph of the two together in a document dump Wednesday
You’ll have to help me out, I don’t believe we’re acquainted: Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas (second and third from left) pictured with Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani. Pence also denied he knew ‘the guy’
No, total stranger, so sorry: President Donald Trump alongside Lev Parnas in Florida before his election
Lev Parnas with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
Some of the text messages Parnas submitted to House investigators were between him and Robert Hyde, a GOP congressional candidate in Connecticut and prominent Trump donor. Hyde and the president are pictured together in an undated Facebook photo
Shortly after he made his comments, Parnas’ attorney Joesph Bondy released a video of Trump with Parnas at Mar-a-Lago in 2017. Bondy, who had posted photos of Parnas with Trump and members of the first family, vowed to post more if the president denied knowing his client. The soundtrack to the video ‘Together Again’ by Janet Jackson.
‘@realDonaldTrump, the ‘I don’t know him at all, don’t know what he’s about, don’t know where he comes from, know nothing about him’ guy, w Lev Parnas & Roman Nasirov, former head of Ukrainian Fiscal Service, at Mar-a-Lago 2017,’ Bondy wrote. He added the hashtags: ‘#LevRemembers #LetLevSpeak #TheyAllKnew’
Nasirov was indicted in 2017 for stealing $2 billion hryvnias (UAH) ($75 million) in tax revenue. He was ordered to pay compensation.