Lev Parnas claims he has audio of Trump ordering Ukraine ambassador’s firing
Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has submitted to the House Intelligence Committee a recording of an April 2018 dinner he had with the president during which Mr. Trump reportedly ordered the firing of then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
CBS News has not independently corroborated the recording, which was obtained by ABC News. However, Parnas’ attorney told The New York Times that the roughly hour-long recording was material to the impeachment inquiry, that Parnas had “located the recording” after ABC News reported its existence, and that he then turned it over to the House Intelligence Committee. The chairman of the committee, Adam Schiff, has been leading the prosecution of Mr. Trump in the Senate impeachment trial.
On the recording, someone who is reported by ABC News to be Parnas can be heard saying, “If you take a look, 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.”
A voice that sounds like Mr. Trump responds, “What, the ambassador of the Ukraine?”
Parnas says, “Yeah, she’s basically walking around telling everybody wait, he’s going to get impeached, just wait.”
And Mr. Trump demands. “Get rid of her. Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.”
The White House has not denied that it’s Mr. Trump’s voice on the recording. When asked about the recording, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway pointed out that “we have always maintained he can have whichever staff serve at his pleasure.”
Parnas spoke with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow about the conversation on January 16. He said there were around six people present at the Trump hotel in Washington, and in addition to Mr. Trump, his son, Donald Trump Jr. was also there.
He told Maddow that Mr. Trump had tried to fire Yovanovitch four or five times. It has been known for months that Mr. Trump wanted Yovanovitch out. However, this recording, which suggests Mr. Trump allegedly directed aide John DeStephano to fire Yovanovitch, means that a year would elapse before he was able to remove her from her post, in April 2019.
Mr. Bondy said the recording was “of high materiality to the impeachment inquiry” of Mr. Trump and that he had provided it to the House Intelligence Committee, whose chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff, is leading the impeachment managers in their presentation of the case.
The recording, along with photos released by Parnas, also seems to indicate President Trump had more interactions with Parnas than he has admitted. In fact, Mr. Trump has flatly denied he knows Parnas. “I don’t know Parnas, other than I guess I had pictures taken, which I do with thousands of people,” Mr. Trump told reporters earlier this month. “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 added, “I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken to him.”
Romello Oliver contributed to this report.
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