In the middle of the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, the US President is under further pressure from an apparently covertly recorded video. In the video of a dinner with donors in April 2018 released by US media on Saturday, Trump can be heard emphatically calling for the dismissal of his then ambassador to Kiev, Marie Yovanovitch. A year later, Yovanovitch was recalled from her post.
Ukrainian businessman Lev Parnas and his partner Igor Fruman also attended the donation dinner in a hotel, as the photos show. The two, who have been accused of violating campaign finance laws since October, play a key role in the Ukraine affair.
“Get them out tomorrow”
Documents previously released by opposition Democrats are said to show that Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, along with his business partner Parnas, was exerting pressure on Kiev to open an investigation into Democratic US presidential candidate Joe Biden. Accordingly, they are said to have tried together with Ukrainian representatives to force Yovanovitch out of office.
On the video now released, Parnas describes the US ambassador as a stumbling block, who also disparages the president in private talks. Trump’s voice can be heard shortly afterwards: “Get rid of them,” he says. «Get her out tomorrow. I do not care. Get them out tomorrow. Get them out. OK? It does.”
The video, which lasts almost an hour and a half, appears to have been recorded covertly: At the beginning, the room and some guests can be seen from a frog’s perspective, then only voices can be heard against a brown background – as if the camera were hidden. Neither Trump nor the Secret Service seem to have noticed anything.
Parnas has more shots
The video was made available to the media by Parnas’ lawyer Joseph Bondy. He told CNN that he also handed it over to the House of Representatives investigators. According to Bondy, Parnas has other video recordings and photos that he could make public.
In a television interview last week, Parnas had already weighed heavily on the president. He said of his and Fruman’s efforts in Ukraine that Trump “knew exactly what was going on”. The video now published largely confirms his statements. Among other things, it refutes assurances from the US president that he doesn’t know Parnas and Fruman.
The video increases the pressure on the US Senate to hear other witnesses in the impeachment process – which the Republican Senate majority has so far strictly rejected. (SDA / szm)