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A recording of President Donald Trump saying on April 30, 2018, that he wanted then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired has been turned over to the House Intelligence Committee, according to a lawyer for one of the people who heard the original conversation.
Joseph Bondy, an attorney for Lev Parnas, told NewsHour Friday that Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, was at a dinner with the president and several others when Trump said he wanted Yovanovitch out.
The recording, reviewed and first reported by ABC News, appears to capture Trump saying, “Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.”
Bondy said that after news of the recording became public, Parnas searched an online database connected to his iPhone and found an hour-long video from the dinner. Bondy then turned the iPhone video over to the House committee. The PBS NewsHour has not obtained or independently reviewed the recording.
Bondy said the recording appears to be “entirely consistent” with Parnas’ recollection of that night. He added that Parnas attended the dinner along with Igor Fruman, another of Giuliani’s business associates.
Both Parnas and Fruman have been indicted on federal charges including violating campaign finance laws.
According to ABC News, on the recording it appears Parnas and Fruman are telling Trump that the U.S. ambassador has been bad-mouthing him, which leads directly to the remarks by the president. The recording was made by Fruman, according to a source familiar with it.
Trump has repeatedly said he does not know Parnas well. He has also attacked Yovanovitch on Twitter by claiming everywhere she went “turned bad.”
News of the recording comes as House Democrats are making the case before the U.S. Senate that Trump should be removed from office.
“The recording itself underscores the critical importance of calling witnesses and receiving evidence,” Bondy said.
Bondy said Friday that he hopes the new recording will be a “tipping point” that will lead to senators allowing Parnas to testify at the Senate trial.
The seven House managers who are acting as prosecutors in Trump’s impeachment trial have been given 24 hours over three days to present their arguments. The managers are expected to conclude their presentation Friday.
Trump’s lawyers will then be given the same amount of time to present its defense.
Yamiche Alcindor is the White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour; the moderator of Washington Week, the weekly public affairs show on PBS; and a political contributor for NBC News and MSNBC. She often tells stories about the intersection of race and politics as well as fatal police encounters. She is currently covering the administration of President Joe Biden and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
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