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President Donald Trump responded on Friday to an alleged recording from indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas in which Trump said he wanted to get rid of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch by noting that he has every legal right to fire any ambassador that he wants.
Trump made the remarks during an interview on Fox News on Laura Ingraham’s “The Ingraham Angle” with contributor Raymond Arroyo.
“ABC News is reporting a recording of Lev Parnas, another Rudy Giuliani affiliate and you, purportedly, at the Trump Hotel from April of 2018 where you were quoted as saying of Marie Yovanovitch, the Ukrainian Ambassador, ‘get rid of her, take her out – okay, do it,’” Arroyo said. “Were you relying on Lev Parnas to get rid of your ambassador?”
“No, but I have a lot of people, and you know, he’s somebody that, I guess, based on pictures that I see, goes to fundraisers,” Trump responded. “But I am not a fan of that ambassador, just so you understand. From what I understand, and I heard this a long time ago – she wouldn’t put my picture up. She was an Obama appointee, I believe, and she wouldn’t put my picture up.”
“But were you telling Parnas to get rid of her?” Arroyo asked. “I mean, you have a State Department.”
“Well, I wouldn’t have been saying that. I probably would have said – it was Rudy there, or somebody – but I make no bones about it, I want to have ambassadors – I have every right, I want ambassadors that are chosen by me,” Trump responded. “I have a right to hire and fire ambassadors, and that’s a very important thing.”
Trump’s remarks were correct as former President Barack Obama got rid of all of George W. Bush’s politically appointed ambassadors; Yovanovitch was appointed by Obama in 2016.
The Washington Post reported in December 2008:
The incoming Obama administration has notified all politically-appointed ambassadors that they must vacate their posts as of Jan. 20, the day President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office, a State Department official said.
Political ambassadors sometimes are permitted to stay on briefly during a new administration, but the sweeping nature of the directive suggests that Obama has little interest in retaining any of Bush’s ambassadorial appointees.
“But even if you look at the conversation I had with the president [of Ukraine], he didn’t like her – because in there, he didn’t like her,” Trump continued. “I will tell you right now, I feel strongly that this is somebody that shouldn’t be with us. She wasn’t popular even in the country. And the new president who ran on a corruption –”