WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An audio recording appeared to capture U.S. President Donald Trump calling in 2018 for the firing of the then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, a main figure in the series of events that led to his impeachment, ABC News reported on Friday.
The recording features a voice that sounds like Trump’s speaking at a small dinner in April 2018 with guests including Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, ABC reported, citing sources familiar with the recording.
If the recording is authentic, it would bolster Democrats’ argument that Trump associates spent nearly a year trying to oust the ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, because they saw her as an obstacle in their efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Trump’s political rival Joe Biden.
“Get rid of her!” the voice says, according to ABC. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.”
Trump has said he had the right to fire Yovanovitch, which he did in May 2019.
Trump told Fox News on Friday that he was “not a fan” of Yovanovitch.
Parnas had recounted the conversation in media interviews last week.
Parnas found a digital recording of the comments after ABC published its article on Friday, his lawyer Joseph Bondy said, and sent it to the House Intelligence Committee, which is continuing to investigate Trump’s conduct.
“I was particularly gratified to see that everything Mr. Parnas has been stating about that event was true,” Bondy said, referring to the April 30, 2018 dinner. “It is yet another example of Mr. Parnas’s version of events being corroborated by evidence in the form of recordings, emails, text messages.”
Parnas, a Florida businessman, has been providing evidence to Democrats now pushing for Trump’s ouster at his impeachment trial in the Senate. He played a key role in Giuliani’s effort to dig up dirt on Biden in Ukraine for Trump. He is now under indictment for campaign finance violations in a separate criminal case.
Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Additional reporting by Eric Beech; writing by Scott Malone and Andy Sullivan; editing by Alistair Bell and Grant McCool