Donald Trump demanded the dismissal of Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine and a key figure in the president’s impeachment trial, according to a video recording released to US media on Saturday.
The footage was reportedly taken during an April 2018 donor dinner at a hotel and released to news outlets by an attorney for Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Parnas and his business partner Igor Fruman are key players in Trump’s alleged campaign to pressure the government of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, a potential election opponent for the president. The issue is central to Trump’s ongoing impeachment trial in the US Senate.
His order to fire the ambassador came after Parnas told him that Yovanovich was an impediment, and claiming that she had privately disparaged the president.
“Get rid of her!” Trump says on the tape, reportedly addressing a White House aide at the dining table. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”
In interview with MSNBC News last week, Parnas said Trump “knew exactly what was going on” with his and Fruman’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian authorities to investigate Biden.