A recording purported to be of President Donald Trump calling for the firing of Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was made public Friday morning, hours before Trump's defense team began their opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial.
"Get rid of her!" Trump appeared to say in the recording, which was first reported by ABC News. "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it."
The recording was allegedly made during a private meeting that included associates of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani and was reportedly made by Igor Fruman, a Belarus-born businessman who along with Soviet-born Lev Parnas, faces federal campaign finance charges. Both Fruman and Parnas along with other unnamed associates were present when the conversation was recorded ABC News reports.
The recording of President Trump was reportedly made at an "intimate gathering" at Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. on April 30, 2018 after the two Giuliani associates reported to Trump that Yovanovitch had been bad-mouthing him.
"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," Parnas appeared to have told Trump in the recording. "She's basically walking around telling everybody 'Wait, he's gonna get impeached, just wait.'"
ABC News notes that Yovanovitch had actually worked at the State Department since the Reagan administration.
Both Parnas and Fruman have been indicted by the Southern District of New York on charges including campaign finance fraud.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham did not deny it was the president's voice on the recording saying in a statement to the outlet that "Every president in our history has had the right to place people who support his agenda and policies within his Administration."
The record appears to call into question several statements made by the president regarding Yovanovitch's dismissal. The Ambassador was recalled from her position a little over a year after the recording was made, in April 2019 after what some impeachment witnesses have characterized as a "smear campaign" against Yovanovitch.
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