Trump caught on videotape demanding dismissal of ambassador to Ukraine, lawyer says

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If it is authentic, it would bolster Democrats' argument that Trump associates spent almost a year trying to oust the ambassador, Marie Yovanovich, because they saw her as an obstacle in their efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Trump's political rival Joe Biden.

Trump's tirade against Yovanovitch came after both Fruman and Parnas had informed the president that the ambassador was known to say nasty things about it, which prompted Trump to demand her dismissal.

The recording allegedly captured President Trump telling Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman "Get her out tomorrow, I don't care, take her out okay?" Take her out. Okay? "She's still left over from the Clinton administration".

Trump also tells the assembled guests that it is "ridiculous" and "wrong" that he can't hold political fundraisers inside the White House, saying it would save the government money compared to driving him the four blocks to his hotel. Prosecutors are also investigating Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, with whom the two Soviet-born businessmen worked to oust Yovanovitch. The recording appears to contradict the president's statements that he did not know Parnas, a key figure in the investigation. But the most striking moment comes when Parnas and the president discuss the dismissal of his ambassador to Ukraine.

"No, no, but I have a lot of people and he's somebody that I guess, based on pictures that I see, goes to fundraisers", Trump said of Parnas. "And I told the President that - our opinion - that (Ambassador Yovanovitch) is bad-mouthing him and that she said that he's gonna get impeached - something like that". The trial will determine whether Trump is convicted of those charges and removed from office, or acquitted.

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The audiotape lines up with what Parnastold MSNBC's Rachel Maddow about the Trump dinner in an interview last week.

"If we're going to call witnesses, [Democrats] have made the case very successfully that we need to call Hunter Biden and probably Joe Biden", Hawley said Friday.

Republican Senator Richard Burr has brought fidget spinners onto the floor to keep his colleagues occupied as House Democrats make the case for impeachment. "He responded to him, said Mr. President, we can't do that right now because [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo hasn't been confirmed yet, that Pompeo is not confirmed yet and we don't have - this is when [former Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was gone, but Pompeo was confirmed, so they go, wait until - so several conversations he mentioned it again".

Trump has distanced himself from Parnas, who is under federal indictment in NY in a campaign finance case, and the president's supporters have questioned his credibility and motives.

Yovanovitch, meanwhile, offered public testimony during the impeachment inquiry in November 2019 and alleged there was a pressure and smear campaign against her. The second article of impeachment accuses Trump of obstructing Congress by refusing to turn over documents or allow officials to testify in the House probe.

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