On Friday morning, ABC News reported that its journalists had listened to an audio recording of “an intimate April 30, 2018, dinner” at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. As ABC News reported, the event was attended by Donald Trump and other guests, including both Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — the two indicted associates of presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that he does not know either of these associates. But the existence of the newly revealed recording — if it is authentic — would appear to directly contradict the president’s denials. This could also show that Fruman is now cooperating with investigators to provide evidence against Trump, according to legal experts.
The recording allegedly captures a conversation between Parnas and Trump, in which the Giuliani associate tells the president that then-United States Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch had spoken derisively of him.
“We gotta get rid of the ambassador,” Parnas is heard telling Trump on the tape, per ABC News.
As further quoted, he then goes on to claim that Yovanovitch was “walking around” telling others about the president, “Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait.”
On the audio, an enraged Trump is then heard telling a person at the dinner to “get rid” of Yovanovitch. Whether the president was directing the order at Parnas or someone else remains unclear.
“I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out,” the voice identified as Trump is heard to say, as quoted by ABC News. “Do it.”
But the tape may also have additional legal significance for Trump. While Parnas has openly cooperated with prosecutors and with Congress in its investigation of the president’s alleged pressure campaign against Ukraine, Fruman has remained silent. But the ABC News report says that he secretly made the recording at the dinner.
According to Politico national security reporter Natasha Bertrand, posting via Twitter, Fruman was previously believed to have entered a “joint defense agreement” with Giuliani. But it is now “unclear if that’s still the case,” she added.
If Fruman has dropped out of that agreement, it could indicate that he, like Parnas, has now flipped on Trump and is prepared to provide evidence against him.
“Unless it was somehow in Parnas’ cache of materials, this could imply Fruman is also cooperating,” former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, now a legal analyst for cable network MSNBC, said in a Twitter post.
Parnas has turned over thousands of text messages and other evidence to Congress and has also given a series of television interviews in which he has detailed what he claims was his role in the pressure campaign. This was allegedly aimed at forcing Ukraine to stage a politically-motivated investigation of Democratic 2020 frontrunner Joe Biden.
The Giuliani associate, in one such interview, told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that Trump “knew exactly what was going on” in the campaign.