Footage released Saturday by Fox News shows President Donald Trump calling for then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s ouster.
According to the Washington Examiner, Trump can be heard on the video speaking to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — two associates of the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani — at a “private dinner” on April 30, 2018.
“Get rid of her,” Trump says of Yovanovitch, according to the Examiner. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”
Trump’s “biggest problem”
The existence of the recording was first reported by ABC News on Friday, according to the Examiner. ABC later released a copy of the video, saying it was made by Fruman, while Parnas provided a copy to the Daily Beast, the Examiner reported.
Parnas’ attorney, Joseph Bondy, gave the footage to Fox News.
“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 told Fox.
In a clip of the footage posted to YouTube by PBS News Hour, the president can be heard asking: “So how’s Ukraine doing?” Parnas responds that the Ukrainians “love” Trump, but says the “biggest problem there, where you need to start, is [we’ve] got to get rid of the ambassador. She’s still left over from the Clinton administration,” Parnas adds of Yovanovitch.
He goes on to accuse the now-former ambassador of undermining Trump’s agenda, explaining: “She’s basically walking around telling everyone, ‘Wait, he’s going to get impeached.'”
This doesn’t go over well with the president, who promptly calls for Yovanovitch’s removal. Neither he nor anyone else can be seen on camera in the footage, however. Take a look:
“I am not a fan”
Yovanovitch was ultimately removed from her post by Trump in May 2019, according to NPR. Reacting to reports of the footage on Friday, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham offered brief remarks: “Every president in our history has had the right to place people who support his agenda and his policies within his administration,” she said, according to ABC.
That message was echoed by the president himself on an appearance on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle on Friday.
“I am not a fan of that ambassador,” he said of Yovanovitch, according to Fox. But he stressed that Parnas wasn’t the reason for her removal. “I want ambassadors that are chosen by me,” Trump said. “I have a right to hire and fire ambassadors.”