GOP Sen Defends Trump In Parnas Recording: ‘Certainly The President Meets A Lot Of People’

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) as he listens to testimony during a Senate Subcommittee on Appropriations hearing on June 13, 2017. (Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
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January 26, 2020 10:55 a.m.
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Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) argued that President Trump’s many connections means that the recording of the President telling Rudy Giuliani associates to “take [Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch] out” is not a big deal.

The recording, which features Trump telling Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to “take her out!” after he was told that the Yovanovitch was “badmouthing” him in Kyiv, was reportedly recorded by  Fruman during a small April 30, 2018 dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Lankford for his response to the recording where Trump discusses Yovanovitch’s ouster with Parnas and Fruman — who the President previously claimed he didn’t know — the Oklahoma Republican said that Trump only made a brief appearance at the dinner.

“This is a fundraising dinner back in the spring a year and a half ago where the 
President literally takes a bunch of pictures and sits down at the dinner — a dinner of 25 of people or so — and then he leaves,” Lankford said.

After Tapper pointed out that this is a “90-minute recording,” Lankford said that he “understands it, but it is a dinner.”

“It’s 90 minutes over a dinner that he walks in and actually participates in this,” Lankford said. “It’s hard to say to the President who meets a thousand people a day, ‘OK do you know this person who was at a dinner with you a year and half ago?’ and to say you have a relationship — it is the same argument people said that you had your picture made with him.”

When Tapper said that the recording demonstrates “more than a picture and a 90-minute phone call talking about the ouster of Yovanovitch, Lankford said “there’s a lot of things he talks about in that same tape” such as “Germany not paying their fair share.”

As soon as Tapper told Lankford that “the point is that the President did not tell the truth,” Lankford hit back and said “what I’m trying to say to say to you is the same thing you had” before launching into a rant where he reiterates his argument that the President meets many people.

If I went back and said a year and a half ago, I want to ask you about somebody who attended a dinner you were at and was a part of a 20-person conversation and you could not name that person because you don’t remember — and they brought up a tape and you would go, OK yeah I was there, I just don’t remember that person because it was a year and a half ago, but you meet a lot of people and I meet a lot of people,” Lankford said. And certainly the President meets a lot of people, and it’s hard to be able to say I know somebody that attended a fundraising dinner, got a picture made or attended a different time and got a picture when you sure meet a lot of people.”

Watch Lankford’s remarks below:

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