Rudy Giuliani’s indicted buddies delivered a message directly to President Donald Trump last year that the ambassador to Ukraine at the time was against him, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Trump responded by suggesting that then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch should be fired, unnamed sources familiar with one of the Giuliani associates’ accounts told the Post.
The event took place in April 2018; and Yovanovitch was eventually recalled as Ukraine ambassador in May 2019 after a smear campaign led by Rudy Giuliani and carried out, in part, by the Giuliani associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
Giuliani has acknowledged personally pushing Trump to fire Yovanovitch, and said that Trump believed he’d fired Yovanovitch long before the ambassador was actually recalled — “The President fired her three times and thought she was gone,” he told the Post.
Parnas and Fruman got plenty of photos with Trump in the months leading up to their arrest last month on charges related to an alleged campaign finance conspiracy, posing with him at private events. But the Post’s report marks the first revelation that Parnas and Fruman had any serious face time with the President. Trump has claimed he doesn’t know the men and that he has “a picture with everybody.”
One attendee at the event where the duo made the claim estimated there were 15 people in attendance. The Post reported that Trump dined and mingled at the event for 90 minutes. It was hosted by America First Action super PAC — a $325,000 donation to that PAC the next month, from a company established by Parnas and Fruman, would later play a central role in the indictment against them.
“It’s just not true that he had no idea who these guys were. He knew Lev particularly,” one unnamed senior administration official told the Post. Giuliani told the Post: “I did not introduce them to the President.”
One unnamed source in touch with Parnas and Fruman beginning in the summer of 2018 told the Post: “They were constantly complaining about her” — Yovanovitch.
According to the Post’s sources, Parnas and Fruman told Trump that Yovanovitch was unfriendly to him and his interests. Similar accusations appeared in a May 2018 letter from Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) to Trump arguing for Yovanovitch’s removal. As described in the federal indictment against Parnas and Fruman, the pair donated $5,400 to Sessions’ 2018 campaign. Sessions received $3 million in outside support from the America First Action super PAC.