The lawyer representing Lev Parnas has released a 2018 recording on which President Trump tells him and other associates to “get rid of” then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. On Friday, ABC News reported on the contents of the tape, which Parnas’s lawyer, Joseph Bondy, has given to the House Intelligence Committee and federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District. On Saturday — after Trump’s lawyers finished their first day of defense in the president’s impeachment trial — Bondy gave the full tape to the media.
“Given its importance to the national interest, we decided to release this recording in a manner intended to ensure equal public access, and in an effort to provide clarity to the American people and the Senate as to the need to conduct a fair trial, with witnesses and evidence,” Bondy said in a statement.
The hour-long recording captures part of a private April 30, 2018 dinner where Trump, Parnas, and Parnas’s then-business partner, Igor Fruman, discussed Ukraine. Parnas and Fruman worked for Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as backchannel operatives in Ukraine, where the group was trying to pressure the government to help dig up politically damaging dirt on the Biden family. In the recording, Parnas and Fruman can be heard telling Trump that Ambassador Yovanovitch needs to be removed, as well as claiming that she has been criticizing him.
“Get rid of her!” Trump responds, “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.”
The comments come 42 minutes into the video, at which point the participants can only be heard, not seen:
In April 2019, Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled from Ukraine following a year-long smear campaign. The veteran diplomat later recounted her experience in testimony before the House during last year’s impeachment hearings, where she called attention to how “foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government.”
Trump and his allies have insisted that he had the right to remove Yovanovitch for any reason, and they have tried to discredit Parnas, who Trump has repeatedly claimed he does not know or ever remember speaking with.