Shocking video has emerged of US President Donald Trump telling his associates in 2018 to “take out” the US ambassador to Ukraine, which he did more than a year later.
The 83-minute recording in which, for the most part, the camera is pointed at the ceiling, features Mr Trump speaking animatedly about firing Marie Yovanovitch after one suspected businessman suggested she was a problem.
“Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it,” Mr Trump can be heard saying halfway through a dinner with donors at the Trump Hotel in April 2018.
Footage shows Mr Trump making those orders without hesitation after the dinner guest said Ms Yovanovitch was “still left over from the Clinton administration” and was “telling everybody” to expect for him to get impeached.
Another attendee then says, laughing: “She’ll be gone tomorrow”.
Watch a snippet of the leaked tape
Ms Yovanovitch got the sack in May 2019 after Mr Trump publicly stated he wanted her fired.
Just last week, he told Fox News that he was “not a fan” of Ms Yovanovitch.
She later went on to testify in Mr Trump’s impeachment inquiry, arguing her removal was based on “unfounded and false claims” perpetuated by Mr Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the leaked footage which was obtained by Reuters from businessman Lev Parnas’ lawyer, Joseph Bondy.
Democrats say Mr Trump’s associates spent nearly a year trying to oust Ms Yovanovitch because they saw her as an obstacle in their efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Mr Trump’s political rival in the 2020 election, Joe Biden.
Mr Parnas, a former associate of Mr Giuliani, recounted the conversation in media interviews last week. Mr Trump has said that he does not know Mr Parnas.
After the ABC report on Friday, Mr Parnas found a digital recording of the comments, Mr Bondy said, and sent it to the House Intelligence Committee, which is continuing to investigate Mr Trump’s conduct.
“I was particularly gratified to see that everything Mr Parnas has been stating about that event was true,” Mr Bondy said, referring to the April 30, 2018 dinner.
“It is yet another example of Mr Parnas’ version of events being corroborated by evidence in the form of recordings, emails, text messages.”
Mr Parnas, a Florida businessman, has been providing evidence to Democrats now pushing for Mr Trump’s ouster at his impeachment trial in the Senate.
He played a key role in Mr Giuliani’s effort to dig up dirt on Mr Biden in Ukraine for Mr Trump. He is now under indictment for campaign finance violations in a separate criminal case.