Trump Told 28-Year-Old Assistant To Fire U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine Yovanovitch, Parnas Claims
Lev Parnas, a known associate of Rudy Giuliani, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that President Donald Trump ordered the firing of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, several times before she was officially recalled in April.
“He fired her probably … at least four or five times,” Parnas said in the interview that aired Thursday.
“He even had a breakdown and screamed, ‘Fire her!’ to Madeleine, his assistant… secretary before he fired her, and she said, ‘Mr. President, I can’t do that,’” Parnas said referring to Trump’s 28-year-old assistant Madeleine Westerhout, who was fired in the summer for gossiping to reporters about the president’s family.
Parnas and another Giuliani associate have been charged with campaign finance violations, by allegedly funneling money from foreign entities to U.S. candidates.
Parnas said Trump tried to fire Yovanovitch multiple times during a dinner at one of his hotels.
“I don’t know how the issue is — the conversation came up, but I do remember me telling the president that the ambassador was badmouthing him and saying he was going to get impeached. Something to that effect,” Parnas said. “And at that point he turned around to John DeStefano, who was his aide at the time, and said, ‘fire her.’ And we all, there was silence in the room.”
Parnas added that DeStefano replied Yovanovitch could not be fired until Mike Pompeo was confirmed as secretary of state.
“I don’t know how many times at that dinner, once or twice or three times, but [Trump] fired her several times at that dinner,” Parnas said.
Yovanovitch was known for her anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine, and allegedly was viewed by Giuliani as a block in his pressure campaign.
A transcript of a July 25 call between Trump and the President of Ukraine, as well as a subsequent investigation by the House, revealed Trump had been working to pressure their government to open a probe into his political opponent Joe Biden.
Giuliani said last month that Yovanovitch was an obstacle to getting Ukraine to announce the investigations Trump desired. He later tweeted that she “needed to be removed for many reasons.”
During the transcript of the July call, which almost singlehandedly spearheaded the impeachment inquiry, Trump told the Ukrainian president that Yovanovitch “is going to go through some things.” He also discussed military aid and asked the foreign leader to “do us a favor” and look into Joe Biden’s son’s ties to a Ukrainian energy company.
Yovanovitch testified during the House impeachment investigation, saying she was a target of a “smear campaign” led by Giuliani, who propagated Ukrainian disinformation about her talking badly about the president, creating a “do not prosecute” list and blocking investigations into the Biden family.
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