world

Envoy testifies Trump tied Ukraine aid to politically motivated investigations

44 Comments
By Patricia Zengerle and Jonathan Landay

The top American diplomat in Ukraine testified on Tuesday that President Donald Trump made the release of U.S. security aid to Ukraine contingent on Kiev publicly declaring it would carry out politically motivated investigations that he demanded, according to a copy of his statement to lawmakers.

William Taylor, a career diplomat and former Army officer who serves as the charge d'affaires in the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, gave closed-door testimony to the three Democratic-led House of Representatives committees leading an impeachment inquiry against the Republican president. The Washington Post posted a copy of Taylor's opening statement online.

Taylor's appearance marked another pivotal development in the political drama unfolding in Washington that threatens Trump's presidency even as he pursues re-election.

It ran counter to Trump's contention that there was no quid pro quo - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - related to the $391 million in security assistance approved by the U.S. Congress to help combat Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that Trump had withheld.

"It was the most damning testimony," Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz told reporters.

Taylor testified that he was told by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. envoy to the European Union, that Trump had linked release of the aid to public declarations by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy about investigating domestic political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden as well as a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.

Zelenskiy agreed to the request. The aid was later released.

In his testimony, Taylor detailed numerous conversations and events and emphasized the strategic importance of Ukraine as it faces Russian aggression.

Previously released text messages that Taylor sent to other senior U.S. officials denounced as "crazy" the idea of withholding the security aid to benefit a domestic political campaign. In his testimony, Taylor emphatically reiterated that view.

The House inquiry is focusing on Trump's request during a July 25 telephone call with Zelenskiy that he investigate the Bidens. Joe Biden, the former vice president, is a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to face Republican Trump. Hunter Biden had served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Taylor said Trump also made a White House invitation to Zelenskiy contingent on announcing to the investigations.

The content of the phone call was first revealed by a whistleblower within a U.S. intelligence agency, who submitted a report stating Trump pressured Zelenskiy to advance his personal political interests. Trump also publicly asked China to investigate the Bidens.

Federal election law prohibits candidates from accepting foreign help in an election.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and accused Democrats of trying to oust him to prevent him from being re-elected.

Trump has denied that there was a quid pro quo, though his acting chief of staff last week acknowledged that the aid was contingent on Ukraine investigating a discredited theory by some Trump supporters that there is a Democratic National Committee(DNC) computer server in Ukraine.

'DIRECT LINE'

Referring to Taylor's testimony, Wasserman Schultz added, "I really felt like he drew the most direct line that I've heard from President Trump to the withholding of foreign aid to a vital diplomatic partner that needs those resources to keep Russia at bay - and tying the withholding of that funding and the meeting that President Zelenskiy wanted to President Zelenskiy declaring that he would open investigations into the Burisma Biden issue and the 2016 election."

"During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelenskiy to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election," Taylor told lawmakers, according to the copy of his opening statement.

The "alleged Ukrainian interference" is a reference to a debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, and not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. U.S. intelligence agencies and a special counsel investigation concluded that Russia used a campaign of hacking and propaganda to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and boost Trump's candidacy in 2016.

Taylor had mentioned his concerns over the withholding of U.S. aid on Sept. 9 to Sondland and Kurt Volker, the State Department's former special envoy to Ukraine, in a text message provided to House investigators and later made public.

"As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Taylor wrote in the text message.

On Tuesday, Taylor told the impeachment inquiry: "Our national security demands that this relationship remain strong. However, in August and September of this year, I became increasingly concerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making and by the withholding of vital security assistance for domestic political reasons."

Taylor described this channel as including Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, then-Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Sondland.

Taylor also said Sondland told him that he recognized he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials that Zelenskiy's desire for a White House meeting with Trump was dependent on a public announcement of investigations Trump sought. In fact, Taylor testified, Sondland said "'everything' was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.'"

Taylor was tapped to serve as charge d'affaires in Kiev, where he had served as U.S. ambassador from 2006 to 2009, after Trump in May abruptly removed Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Giuliani had portrayed her as resisting his efforts to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

Yovanovitch testified in the impeachment inquiry on Oct 11.

Sondland was a wealthy Oregon hotelier and Trump political donor named to his European diplomatic post last year. In his testimony to lawmakers, he expressed concern that Trump had ordered U.S. officials in May to work with Giuliani on Ukraine policy. Giuliani had been working to engineer a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens.

Taylor said Sondland, during a Sept 8 phone call, "tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check."

In addition, Taylor said Volker used the same terms days later.

"I argued to both that the explanation made no sense: the Ukrainians did not 'owe' President Trump anything, and holding up security assistance for domestic political gain was 'crazy,' as I had said in my message to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker on September 9," Taylor testified.

Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly told reporters Taylor's testimony was based on meticulous contemporaneous notes of conversations and meetings, adding to his credibility as a witness.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

44 Comments

Comments have been disabled You can no longer respond to this thread.

This is beautiful. It's going to boil down to the physical evidence - Donny's words from the phone call - and testimony. Good thing most people pushing Donny's narrative have little to no credibility.

The House should subpoena Donny. See if he'll comply or be ordered to testify by SCOTUS. The question then becomes: Will he testify if ordered to by SCOTUS?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Yawn.

We went through worse during the Russia thing and wr still came out on top.

Americans are bored of this stuff.

Trump can ride through all this, and worse, with ease.

2020 is a coming, get ready for a big red map of the USA on your screens.

-18 ( +0 / -18 )

Yawn.

We went through worse during the Russia thing and wr still came out on top.

We? So, you're American.

Americans are bored of this stuff.

How do you know this? Have you asked all 330 million of us?

Trump can ride through all this, and worse, with ease.

2020 is a coming, get ready for a big red map of the USA on your screens.

You hope.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Americans are bored of this stuff.

Is that what the Russian media is telling the people?

Actually, over half of Americans think Trump should be impeached.

That's the problem with state-sponsored media - they tell lies.

What is the cost of lies? It's not that we will mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that, if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

He’s the type that will have a meltdown if things get too hot.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Taylor described an explicit quid pro quo..

Bolton fought the effort to hijack the policy toward Ukraine and Pompeo did not respond directly to complaints.

Ukrainians would die at the hands of Russian led-forces as a result of the delay in American military aid. But Trump does not care about that.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Bill Taylor. The guy that Schiff’s staffer went to Ukraine to talk to before the whistleblower even submitted their complaint. I’m sure they had 18 days to get their stories straight between he, Schiff and the whistleblower.

-14 ( +0 / -14 )

Bill Taylor. The guy that Schiff’s staffer went to Ukraine to talk to before the whistleblower even submitted their complaint. I’m sure they had 18 days to get their stories straight between he, Schiff and the whistleblower.

That's quite the theory you have on this conspiracy. It must cause you a lot of angst at night.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

This, plus Mulvaney's statements, should deal the deal.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

It’s already been confirmed Schiff sent a staffer to Ukraine in August to talk to Bill Taylor.

-13 ( +0 / -13 )

It’s already been confirmed Schiff sent a staffer to Ukraine in August to talk to Bill Taylor.

The theory you have on this conspiracy grows grander!

Sounds like an exciting novel or movie. Just imagine the intrigue!

9 ( +9 / -0 )

It’s already been confirmed Schiff sent a staffer to Ukraine in August to talk to Bill Taylor.

Hmm. I can't find confirmation of this from anywhere except Red State, Breitbart, and other rightwing propaganda outlets.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

BlacklabelToday  07:50 am JST

I’m sure they...

Of course you are. We all know you'll try to excuse absolutely anything Trump says or does. If he did actually shoot someone in broad daylight like he said he could, you would be the first to say it was all just fine.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I can't find confirmation of this from anywhere except Red State, Breitbart, and other rightwing propaganda outlets.

The plot thickens on this conspiracy about which they are theorizing.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Conspiracy theories are just a way for Trump fans to deal with their anxiety. The theories amount to nothing in the eyes of the law which is why they have no arrests, indictments, or convictions.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Love how you discredit all media that doesn’t follow your narrative.

do you really expect CNN and others to report anything off narrative like Schiff sent a staffer to Ukraine before the whistleblower report? If the hearings were in public someone could just ask him,

-15 ( +0 / -15 )

So what purpose do conspiracy theories serve for Dems when they do them? Ease anxiety that you are going to lose again in 2020 unless you impeach Trump?

-14 ( +0 / -14 )

The real crime here is both the Obama and Trump administrations selling arms to a neo-Nazi run regime.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

BlacklabelToday  08:58 am JST

Love how you discredit all media that doesn’t follow your narrative.

That's what you do all the time.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

An old aphorism from the legal profession:

"When you have the facts, pound on the facts. When you have the law, pound on the law. When you have neither, pound on the table."

Seems like an awful lot of table-pounding by the GOP these days.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

No, what I do is read the article, identify who is collaborating the story and look for evidence. Based on that I decide if I feel it’s accurate or not.

its funny you would say what you said. Anytime I use CNN or other liberal media to support what I say here, your side snarks that they are fake news or claims it’s just an “opinion article”.

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

So what purpose do conspiracy theories serve for Dems when they do them?

Dems have conspiracy theories? Hmm, that's quite the conspiracy you are theorizing there.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

BlacklabelToday  09:17 am JST

No, what I do is read the article, identify who is collaborating the story and look for evidence. Based on that I decide if I feel it’s accurate or not.

Which is never if it looks like bad news for Donald Trump.

its funny you would say what you said. Anytime I use CNN or other liberal media to support what I say here, your side snarks that they are fake news or claims it’s just an “opinion article”.

I assume you're referring to articles that aren't totally damning of Trump. I've never "snarked" anything of the sort. To me that's a sign that their purpose might actually be to objectively report the facts. It's hardly their fault if the facts aren't ones you like.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The liberal article always makes an anti-Trump claim. Oh my god, Trump used the word “lynching”.

they never check if anyone else had used the same word in the same situation. Which they have. which is reported by non liberal sites at which time the liberal media quietly moves to the next supposed travesty.

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

Even CNN said if Dems don’t get this wrapped up by thanksgiving they need to give it up.so they basically have 3 weeks left.

So that’s what all the rush to judgement and hiding or transcripts is about.

-16 ( +0 / -16 )

they never check if anyone else had used the same word in the same situation. Which they have. which is reported by non liberal sites at which time the liberal media quietly moves to the next supposed travesty.

Yeah, what about those other people? Of course other people's comments excuse Trump for his. Duh. Everyone can see the logic in that right?

...right?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Even CNN said if Dems don’t get this wrapped up by thanksgiving they need to give it up.

Did they? We'll have to take the word of our American Republicans for it.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

get ready for a big red map of the USA on your screens.

Republican districts tend to have lower population density than Democratic districts. Well done.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

William Taylor has dedicated his whole life to serving the US in both military and civilian roles. He was a cadet at West Point. It’s not easy to get into Army. These guys get all A’s in high school and are recommended by Senators. He not only attended the US Military Academy at West Point but also served 6 years as an infantry officer and was with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He then went on to the JFK School of Government at Harvard for his Master’s degree. To just call him “Bill” is a cute but profane way of expression and shows a lack of good breeding defective in good taste.

Who has more credibility, the President or the Ambassador?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Quid-pro-quo..

Rudy admitted it in the Cuomo interview - "No", "Of Course"....

Donnie confessed to it in the transcript - "I would like you to do us a favor THOUGH"...

Mulvaney admitted it in the press conference..."It's done all the time"...

Everyone called before the inquiry committee, to include Taylor today, stated it was all a shakedown...

This is clear abuse of authority - and let's get all the Repubs in the Senate on record when they vote during the impeachment trial - if they subvert their integrity and Constitution and say no to conviction, vote them all out in 2020.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Bill Taylor's opening statement:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vUI__sxL_fgzy5JYqaxB9cysOHwwQSE4/view

It's just an insane read. Taylor spells out the players and the two channels working, one the legitimate channel through the Taylor and a second side channel which included Giuliani and quid pro quo.

Some parts:

Trump held up the aid personally, and he refused to give an explanation, leaving the Ambassador with no explanation, so everyone was in the dark. Mix in meetings with the side channel, Sonland and Pence and others, who just keep hammering away at the importance for the Ukrainian President to publicly announce investigations into Burisma (Biden) and the conspiracy theory about Russia being wrongly accused of election interference.

The Ukrainians constantly ask about the aid and the legitimate channel has no answers and the side channel won't say why. It's just on hold. Trump requests the Pentagon review the aid and voice any concerns, and they sent their conclusion back the next day: None. Send the aid.

The two channels sit in the same meeting with completely different goals, one looking for investigations and one looking for aid, and the Ukrainians have no idea what to think. Bolton is in one of the meetings, sees what's happening, and immediately ends the meeting. He's not a big fan of Giuliani.

Two of Trump's people carefully explain to Taylor, using the same story, that Trump is a businessman. A businessman doesn't write checks unless he gets what he's owed. Taylor tells them that makes no sense at all.

They say specific things like, "It's not quid pro quo, but if we don't reach an agreement on these announcements then we might have a stalemate." Soooooooo what happens in a stalemate?

It goes on for 15 pages.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Shows your partisanship.

Right, because you're totally not partisan. No way. ;)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Also, about CrowdStrike.

Trump mentioned them in the call to President Zelenskiy. The are a US-based company who researched the hack to DNC servers. CrowdStrike theorists believe that the hard drives still exist, and CrowdStrike, funded and started by a wealthy Ukrainian (it wasn't), sent them to the Ukraine. The Ukraine then released the emails and tricked the world into believing it was the Russians.

President Trump was asking the President of the Ukraine to "get to the bottom of this."

I have to wonder if Putin planted that seed.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

What a president! Here's poor Ukraine under Putin's heel, and Trump is doing his best to screw things up for this fledgling democracy. Disgraceful!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

BlacklabelToday  10:23 am JST

so yes CNN said by Thanksgiving. Bill Taylor is called “Bill Taylor” in government docs. Mike pompeo is disrespected daily so why is Bill Taylor a Saint now?

Why not? What's he done wrong?

and yes it does matter when others on your side, including African Americans, have called impeachment a “lynching” and only Trump is criticized. Shows your partisanship.

I take it you don't think African Americans should have used such an inappropriate analogy. I agree. It's a completely false equivalency. QED you can't approve of Trump using the term either.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I think Trump used the term specifically knowing that Dems and the liberal media would attack him reflexively.

without bothering to check that Dems used the exact same word about the Clinton impeachment.

this is the genius of trump. Every attack is shown to be exactly what it is, false outrage about something a Dem already did with no outcry.

-13 ( +0 / -13 )

I think Trump used the term specifically knowing that Dems and the liberal media would attack him reflexively.

Damn, only a 4D chess master could do that! Impressive!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It is genius: reminds us of Loretta Lynch as well. Then relates to Biden too. Total genius.

Joe Biden in 1998: "Even if the President should be impeached, history is going to question whether or not this was just a partisan lynching..."

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

The poor career diplomats tasked to do Trump's dirty work are the ones who deserve pity. All are turning on Trump and are willing to testify, regardless of consequences. It's only a matter of time before his Senate wall crumbles.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

It is genius: reminds us of Loretta Lynch as well. Then relates to Biden too. Total genius.

Oh gee, more "he's a 4D Chess Master, a stable genius, unmatched wisdom and knowledge" - what a bunch of BS from the blinded, adoring sheep...

Joe Biden in 1998: "Even if the President should be impeached, history is going to question whether or not this was just a partisan lynching..."

Uh-huh - and one of the first outlets to report that was CNN - surprise!

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/10/22/politics/biden-1998-impeach-kfile/index.html

More to the point, Taylor specifically said he talked to Sonland about the quid-pro-quo on the Burisma investigation, which means Sonland needs to come back and explain why he lied under oath.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Pres Trump ties aid to political motivated investigations-so what!

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

in view of the source (extremely credible witness), what was layed out, the corroborating evidence this is pretty damning. Not one. but 2 quid pro quo’s pretty well established now.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Of course you are. We all know you'll try to excuse absolutely anything Trump says or does. If he did actually shoot someone in broad daylight like he said he could, you would be the first to say it was all just fine.

Liberals would put a body there and point to Trump being responsible for the Persons demise.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

bass4funkToday  03:28 pm JST

Liberals...

If I want a totally pointless conversation I'll try talking to someone on TV.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites