An indicted associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani reportedly taped President Trump discussing his desire to oust then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a key player in the impeachment trial unfolding in the Senate, according to an ABC News, which reviewed the recording.
“Get rid of her!” the voice reported to be Mr. Trump’s says. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”
The audio was reportedly taped during a dinner on April 30, 2018, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., that included Lev Parnas and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman.
Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman worked with Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, in probing corruption in Ukraine and a potential nexus to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was still in office.
Ms. Yovanovitch, who was removed from her post in early 2019, was viewed as an impediment to Mr. Giuliani’s efforts.
In the recording taken about a year before her removal, Mr. Giuliani’s associates appear to be telling Mr. Trump that Ms. Yovanovitch has been bad-mouthing the president, prompting Mr. Trump’s alleged demand.
Asked for comment on the ABC report, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said: “Every president in our history has had the right to place people who support his agenda and his policies within his administration.”
Mr. Parnas’ attorney, Joseph Bondy, told The Daily Beast that the hotel recording was made by Mr. Fruman.
Mr. Parnas, a Soviet-born businessman, has been speaking to news outlets as Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial gets underway.
He alleges that Mr. Trump and many top administration officials knew about their push for a Ukrainian corruption probe of Mr. Biden and his son. Democrats who impeached Mr. Trump allege the president abused his power by simultaneously holding up military aid to Kiev.
Mr. Trump denies the charge and has distanced himself from Mr. Parnas, despite photos of them together.
“I don’t know him at all, don’t know what he’s about,” Mr. Trump recently told reporters from the Oval Office.
Mr. Trump’s supporters have questioned Mr. Parnas’ credibility, given he is under indictment, and say the president, who turned “You’re fired” into a TV catchphrase, had every right to remove Ms. Yovanovitch.
Vice President Mike Pence, traveling in Rome, told reporters that he hadn’t heard the tape and couldn’t comment.
“All of the ambassadors for the United States of America serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States,” he added.
The tape, he said, “will only confirm what people already know — is that the president had concerns, and in his authority, this president made a decision.”
He also said Mr. Parnas was wrong to implicate him in the Ukraine scandal.
“What he has said about me has been completely false,” Mr. Pence said. “I don’t recall ever having met Mr. Parnas.”