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'Get rid of her': A voice appearing to be Trump's heard on tape demanding diplomat Yovanovitch's ouster

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Image: Lev Parnas
This undated image released by the House Judiciary Committee from documents provided by Lev Parnas to the committee in the impeachment probe against President Donald Trump, shows a photo of Lev Parnas with Trump in Florida.   -  
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House Judiciary Committee via AP
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A voice that appears to be that of President Donald Trump is heard ordering aides to "get rid" of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch after two now-indicted Rudy Giuliani associates told him the diplomat had been badmouthing him, according an audiotape reviewed by ABC News.

The network said it had reviewed the tape, which appeared to include a discussion between Trump and Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman at a small private dinner. Trump has denied knowing the pair and dismissed numerous pictures of them together as just photos that were taken at public events.

NBC News has neither obtained nor heard the recording and cannot verify the authenticity of the ABC report.

The White House responded with a statement from press secretary Stephanie Grisham: "Every President in our history has had the right to place people who support his agenda and his policies within his Administration."

According to ABC, the voice that sounds like Trump apparently told aides at the April 2018 dinner at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., to "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it."

Trump made the demand after a voice that sounds like Parnas' told the president that Yovanovitch was telling people that Trump was going to be impeached.

"The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador," says the voice that sounds like Parnas. "She's basically walking around telling everybody 'Wait, he's gonna get impeached, just wait.'"

Yovanovitch was removed from her post, but notuntil a year later.

A copy of the recording is in the custody of federal prosecutors in New York, according to ABC.

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

He said he was having dinner in a private area of the hotel with the president and some of his aides.

"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 told Maddow.

"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 said.

He said DeStefano replied it couldn't happen at the time because Mike Pompeo had not yet been confirmed as secretary of state. "I don't know how many times at that dinner, once or twice or three times, but he fired her several times at that dinner," Parnas said, speaking of Trump.

"He even had a breakdown and screamed, 'fire her!'" to another assistant, Parnas claimed, and the assistant replied, "Mr. President, I can't do that."

Yovanovitch, who has been lauded for anti-corruption work, was targeted for removal in a campaign led by Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney.

The release of the audio comes as Democrats were outlining obstruction of Congress charges against the president in his Senate impeachment trial. Both Parnas and Fruman were ordered to turn over Ukraine-related documents to the House impeachment investigators, but refused.

Their lawyer at the time, former Trump lawyer John Dowd, cited various reasons for refusing to hand over documents, including that the pair "assisted Mr. Giulianiwith his representation of President Trump."

Following his arrest, Parnas started cooperating with House investigators and turned over numerous documents text messages and emails.

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