Trump claimed he didn't know Lev Parnas. But an audio recording obtained by ABC News places Trump at an 'intimate' gathering with Parnas, discussing firing the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
ABC News on Friday obtained an audio recording in which Donald Trump orders the firing of now-former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
"Get rid of her!" Trump says of Yovanovitch, according to ABC's retelling of the recording. "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it."
According to ABC News, the audio recording was made by Igor Fruman, the business partner of Soviet-born businessman Lev Parnas, who has become a key figure in the Ukrainian scandal that led to Trump's impeachment. The statements were recorded during an "intimate" dinner at Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel back in April 2018.
Both Fruman and Parnas were associates of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was helping to lead the charge in getting Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rival Joe Biden.
Trump, however, has repeatedly denied knowing Parnas, including last week, when Trump said, "I don't know him."
"I don't know Parnas other than I guess I had pictures taken, which I do with thousands of people, including people today that I didn't meet," Trump said last week. "But I just met him. 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. I can only tell you this thing is a big hoax."
The audio recording shows Trump's comments to be a lie.
On the recording, Trump is heard speaking directly to Parnas about firing Yovanovitch.
"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 told Trump, according to ABC's report. "She's basically walking around telling everybody 'Wait, he's gonna get impeached, just wait.'"
Parnas spoke about his dinner with Trump in an interview with MSNBC that aired last week, discussing what it was like when Trump ordered the firing of Yovanovitch.
"We all, there was a silence in the room," Parnas said. "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."
Both Fruman and Parnas were indicted on campaign finance charges in 2019, with prosecutors alleging the two men helped funnel foreign money into the coffers of Republican elected officials and candidates — a violation of federal law.
Published with permission of The American Independent Association.