- House investigators released the transcript of the testimony of the acting US ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, on Wednesday.
- Taylor, a Vietnam War veteran and career diplomat with a distinguished record of service, provided one of the most damning testimonies against President Donald Trump.
- The US diplomat testified that it was made clear to him there was an explicit quid pro quo involving roughly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine and a request from Trump for certain investigations.
- „That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the President [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation,“ Taylor said.
- The career diplomat testified that freezing the aid was harmful to US national security, adding it was Rudy Giuliani’s idea to have Ukraine’s president publicly commit to an investigation into the Bidens.
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The transcript of the testimony of the top US diplomat to Ukraine, Ambassador Bill Taylor, was released by House investigators leading the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday.
Upon the release of the document, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff tweeted: „Ambassador Taylor’s testimony reveals how, through a shadow foreign policy channel, Trump withheld military assistance and a White House meeting from Ukraine until Ukrainian officials agreed to announce investigations to help Trump politically.“
Taylor, a Vietnam War veteran and career diplomat with a distinguished record of service, provided one of the most damning testimonies against President Donald Trump yet.
His testimony corroborated many of the claims in the whistleblower complaint from a US intelligence official that sparked the impeachment inquiry, and also described an explicit quid pro quo involving roughly $400 million of US military aid to Ukraine.
Taylor testified that Trump wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce the opening of an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, as well as an inquiry into a conspiracy theory linked to the 2016 election. He said it was made clear to him that Trump made the release of the military aid contingent on such a public declaration from Zelensky.
Here is an exchange between Schiff and Taylor, in which he said his „clear understanding“ was that the military assistance would not come until Zelensky „committed to pursue the investigation“ into the Bidens:
SCHIFF: And when you say that, this was the first time I heard that the security assistance not just the White House meeting was conditioned on the investigation, when you talk about conditioned, did you mean that if they didn’t do this, the investigations, they weren’t going to get that, the meeting and the military assistance?
TAYLOR: That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the President committed to pursue the investigation.
SCHIFF: So if they don’t do this, they are not going to get that was your understanding
TAYLOR: Yes, sir.
SCHIFF: Are you aware that quid pro quo literally means this for that?
TAYLOR: I am.
Taylor testified it was Giuliani’s idea to have Ukraine’s president publicly announce an investigation into the Bidens
Taylor said he believed Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was behind the idea to get Zelensky to publicly announce an inquiry into the Bidens and Hunter’s work for a Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, as well as a probe into the 2016 election.
„I think the origin of the idea to get President Zelensky to say out loud he’s going to investigate Burisma and 2016 election, I think the originator, the person who came up with that was Mr. Giuliani,“ Taylor said, going on to say Giuliani was representing Trump’s interests in doing so.
Taylor at another point indicated that a meeting Zelensky desired with Trump was also conditioned on whether the Ukrainian leader would launch the investigations.
Trump had put the congressionally-approved military aid on hold several days before a July 25 phone call with Zelensky, in which he urged his Ukrainian counterpart to open investigations into the Bidens as well as conspiratorial allegations Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.
The career diplomat testified that freezing the aid was harmful to US national security and that freezing security assistance to Kiev could embolden Russia to be even more aggressive towards Ukraine.
Taylor’s testimony also undercut earlier testimony from Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, and inspired him to offer revised testimony that corroborated the existence of a quid pro quo involving the military aid. The transcript of Sondland’s testimony was released on Tuesday.
Taylor is set to testify in the first open or public hearing of the impeachment inquiry next Wednesday.