NYDN: Trump orders henchmen to target ambassador

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President Trump is heard angrily orders shady Ukrainian henchmen to “get rid of” Ambassador Marie Yovanovich in a bombshell new recording that could rock his impeachment defense.

Trump is captured ranting at Rudy Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas to rev up his campaign to oust the American envoy who stood in the way of the president’s scheme to bully Ukraine into launching bogus investigations.

“Get rid of her!” Trump’s is heard saying. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.”

The explosive tape, which was recorded at the Trump International Hotel in April 2018. was obtained exclusively by ABC News Friday.

The bombshell recording tape bolsters the case for impeachment because it captures Trump attacking an American official who was resisting his improper scheme to use ties to Ukraine as a tool in his reelection campaign.

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It also strongly undermines Trump’s repeated insistence that he hardly knows Parnas, a key player in the smear effort led by Rudy Giuliani that was aimed at tarnishing Democratic front runner Joe Biden.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that all ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the president.

Vice President Mike Pence claimed that the recording confirms only that “the president had concerns” about Yovanovich and Ukraine.

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ABC reports that the shocking tape. which was handed over to Manhattan federal prosecutors, was recorded by Igor Fruman, an associate of Parnas, The news organization did not say how it obtained the tape or how it knows who may have recorded it.

Fruman has up to now remained in Trump’s corner. If he was involved in leaking the tape, it could suggest he may plan to flip on Trump, a potentially major crack in the president’s impeachment defense.

It clearly shows that Trump was very familiar with Fruman and Parnas, contradicting his baldfaced claim that “I don’t know” Parnas.

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Parnas explains to Trump on the tape that Yovanovich was blocking their efforts to get the Ukraine government to launch what Giuliani and Trump believed would be politically damaging investigations into Biden; his son, Hunter Biden; and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election, not Russia.

“I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She’s still left over from the Clinton administration,” Parnas tells Trump. “She’s basically walking around telling everybody: ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached. Just wait.’”

That’s when the president angrily erupted.

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It’s unclear why Trump believed he needed any dirt to oust Yovanovich. He fired her last spring, although her successor, Bill Taylor, also resisted the corrupt scheme.

Evidence at the impeachment inquiry says that Giuliani convinced Trump that Yovanovich was disloyal and was tossing diplomatic wrenches in the plot to force Ukraine to give its imprimatur to the smears of the Bidens and the Trump-friendly 2016 conspiracy theory.

Trump mentioned his dislike of Yovanovich and the investigations in his infamous July 25 call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the heart of the impeachment probe.

Parnas and Fruman reportedly also hoped to engineer Yovanovich’s ouster because she sought to block them from corruptly obtaining a lucrative gas deal.

The Soviet-born pair were busted as they sought to flee the U.S. with one-way plane tickets in September in one of the more dramatic chapters in the impeachment drama.

Parnas, who lives in South Florida and has a string of bad debts and business disputes, has since angrily flipped on Trump and Giuliani and has provided information to both the impeachment inquiry and federal prosecutors.

Giuliani is under investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors in connection with the tangled political scheme, from which he benefited handsomely to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable payments.

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Parnas, who donated lavishly to GOP causes and paid Giuliani six-figure fees despite being deeply in debt, says he met repeatedly with Trump and his personal lawyer to plan the Ukraine scheme. One such meeting took place during the 2018 White House Hanukkah party where Parnas, who is Jewish, was an honored guest.