Tuesday morning, the United States’ top diplomat for Ukraine testified before House investigators in regards to the clear quid pro quo committed by Donald Trump when he withheld federal aid unless Ukraine agreed to investigate 2020 hopeful Joe Biden. That diplomat, U.S. envoy William Taylor has had an interesting day to say the very least.
The State Department, under Trump’s power, pulled last minute attempts to stop Taylor’s testimony, but they all failed when, at 9:30 Tuesday morning, Taylor was ushered underground to await testifying.
Even Trump tried the “SQUIRREL!” technique when he tweeted first thing this morning.
It's quite possible Trump made the "lynching" remark to distract us from Ambassador William Taylor's testimony today.
He knows it's going to be one of the worst ones yet for him.
— Thor Benson (@thor_benson) October 22, 2019
At first, his testimony was kept from the public, but news spread quickly of the reaction the crowd had to what Taylor was claiming. Now we know that Taylor told investigators that from what he gathered, the president purposely blocked aid from Ukraine until he had some sort of formal announcement of an investigation into Joe Biden.
Rep. Stephen Lynch said this about the testimony he heard firsthand:
“Without question the most powerful testimony we’ve heard.”
“This testimony is a sea change. I think it could accelerate matters. This will, I think, answer more questions than it raises.”
You can read the entire opening statements here, but here’s a taste:
As we reported earlier, text messages sent to the U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. reflect that Taylor was downright worried about the president’s clear attempt to extort the nation of Ukraine.
Taylor wrote in his opening statement that, “Ukraine is, right at this moment while we sit in this room, and for the last five years, under armed attacked by Russia. The security assistance that we provide is crucial to Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression.”
According to Daily KOS:
Taylor spoke to how he was offered the role of chief of mission in May by Mike Pompeo. It was a post he had held under the Bush administration, and one he considered vitally important, but he took it reluctantly after seeing how Yovanovitch had been treated. Taylor says he took on the role only after securing from Pompeo a promise of “strong support” for Ukraine and after expressing concern about the interference being generated by Rudy Giuliani.
However, once he was in Kyiv, Taylor found himself facing what he described as a “weird combination” of circumstances in which, even as he attempted to initiate formal contacts with the new government of President Volodymyr Zelensky, his efforts were being undercut by “an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy making” that included special envoy Kurt Volker, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland. Even before Taylor arrived in Ukraine, that irregular channel had been at work, and it was clear that its goals were not strong support for Ukraine and regular diplomatic relations.
Taylor continues with his testimony stating that the E.U. Ambassador walked back his claims, saying: “Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with President Zelensky was dependent on a public announcement of investigations — in fact, Ambassador Sondland said, “everything” was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.”
The whole thing has Trump silent on Twitter.