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The numerous reasons why the recording of Trump saying to ‘take her out’ matters

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

[Regarding this story: ‘Take her out’: Recording appears to capture Trump at private dinner saying he wants Ukraine ambassador fired]

A few things to keep in mind and reasons this is significant:

— Trump claims to not know Lev Parnas yet here he is at a dinner where Parnas, Igor Fruman, and Trump (and whoever else) are evidently discussing the possible firing of the US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.


— This tape lends credibility to Lev Parnas, who, in his interview with Rachel Maddow, alleged Trump did precisely this at a dinner he attended with him.

— Recall that Parnas and Fruman are at this point paid agents of a third party (likely Oligarch Dimitry Firtash, then and now fighting extradition to the US, where he’s been indicted) who was seeking to remove Yovanovitch because she threatened his business interests.

— Even giving Trump the benefit of the doubt that his response urging that Yovanovitch be “gotten rid of” was due to his being informed that she was “badmouthing” him, you have to ask why he took the word of Russian/Ukrainian criminals who had a financial motivation to “get rid of” the US ambassador. I mean, you don’t *really* need to ask if you’re paying attention, but I needed some rhetorical device there.

— Keep in mind the timeline, this is late April 2018, not 2019, nearly a year before Yovanovitch was actually fired. Only days after this occurred, the NYT ran an article that Ukraine suddenly stopped cooperating with Mueller’s team (with respect to Paul Manafort, whose un-taxed millions derived from his time representing an earlier, spectacularly corrupt Ukrainian regime). Given the delicacy of the Ukrainian position it’s easy to understand their fear of rankling Trump, but the timing is also curious, taking place only two days after this dinner.

It also amply demonstrates how easy it is to manipulate Trump — here, assuming an interpretation of events most favorable to Trump, i.e., that he really believed that Yovanovitch was badmouthing him (she’s specifically denied this, by the way), the same taunt used to gin up fistfights in grade school is all it took to have the President of the United States demanding she be recalled.

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