6 Key Revelations of Taylor’s Opening Statement to Impeachment Investigators

  
Via:  john-russell  •  4 weeks ago  •  7 comments

6 Key Revelations of Taylor’s Opening Statement to Impeachment Investigators
1. Taylor described an explicit quid pro quo. Mr. Taylor said he was told by Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, that military aid for Ukraine and an Oval Office meeting between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine were contingent on the Ukrainians announcing that they were investigating a company, Burisma

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


6 Key Revelations of Taylor’s Opening Statement to Impeachment Investigators

nytimes.com/2019/10/22/us/politics/william-taylor-testimony.html

By Sharon LaFraniereOctober 22, 2019

WASHINGTON — William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Kiev, provided the most explicit account to date of President Trump’s insistence that Ukraine publicly announce an investigation of Mr. Trump’s political rivals in exchange for an Oval Office meeting and military assistance to fight Russian-led forces.

Mr. Taylor said he and other top officials were alarmed by a shadow foreign policy that put Ukrainian lives at risk for Mr. Trump’s political gain. The following are key parts of his opening statement.

Read the Ukraine Envoy’s Statement to Impeachment Inquiry
William B. Taylor Jr., the United States’ top diplomat in Ukraine, delivered testimony to impeachment investigators on Tuesday that described an effort by President Trump to withhold aid for Ukraine until the country’s leader agreed to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

1. Taylor described an explicit quid pro quo.
Mr. Taylor said he was told by Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, that military aid for Ukraine and an Oval Office meeting between President Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine were contingent on the Ukrainians announcing that they were investigating a company, Burisma, that had hired Hunter Biden, the son of Joseph R. Biden Jr. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, helped convey the demands, he said.

By mid-July it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on the investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. It was also clear that this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel I had come to understand was guided by Mr. Giuliani.

Later in his statement he said,

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. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky “in a public box” by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.

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2. The White House had two channels on Ukraine policy: official and unofficial. Giuliani helped steer the unofficial policy.
I found a confusing and unusual arrangement for making U.S. policy toward Ukraine. There appeared to be two channels of U.S. policy-making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular. As the Chief of Mission, I had authority over the regular, formal diplomatic processes, including the bulk of the U.S. effort to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion and to help it defeat corruption. This regular channel of U.S. policy-making has consistently had strong, bipartisan support both in Congress and in all administrations since Ukraine’s independence from Russia in 1991.

At the same time, however, there was an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making with respect to Ukraine, one which included then-Special Envoy Kurt Volker, Ambassador Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and as I subsequently learned, Mr. Giuliani.

Later he said,

When I first arrived in Kyiv, in June and July, the actions of both the regular and the irregular channels of foreign policy served the same goal-a strong U.S.-Ukraine partnership — but it became clear to me by August that the channels had diverged in their objectives. As this occurred, I became increasingly concerned.

3. Taylor was told Ukraine had to ‘pay up’ before the president would ‘sign a check.’
Before these text messages, during our call on September 8, Ambassador Sondland 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. Ambassador Volker used the same terms several days later while we were together at the Yalta European Strategy Conference. 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 text message to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker on September 9.

4. Taylor said Ukrainians would die at the hands of Russian led-forces as a result of the delay in American military aid.
Ambassador Volker and I traveled to the front line in northern Donbas to receive a briefing from the commander of the forces on the line of contact. Arriving for the briefing in the military headquarters, the commander thanked us for security assistance, but I was aware that this assistance was on hold, which made me uncomfortable.

Ambassador Volker and I could see the armed and hostile Russian-led forces on the other side of the damaged bridge across the line of contact. Over 13,000 Ukrainians had been killed in the war, one or two a week. More Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without the U.S. assistance.

5. Bolton fought the effort to hijack the policy toward Ukraine and Pompeo did not respond directly to complaints, Taylor said.
Two National Security Council staffers, Fiona Hill and Alexander Vindman, told Mr. Taylor that John R. Bolton, then national security adviser and their boss, was very disturbed by the demands that Ukraine launch criminal inquiries.

In the same July 19 phone call, they gave me an account of the July 10 meeting with the Ukrainian officials at the White House. Specifically, they told me that Ambassador Sondland had connected “investigations” with an Oval Office meeting for President Zelensky, which so irritated Ambassador Bolton that he abruptly ended the meeting, telling Dr. Hill and Mr. Vindman that they should have nothing to do with domestic politics. He also directed Dr. Hill to “brief the lawyers.” Dr. Hill said that Ambassador Bolton referred to this as a “drug deal” after the July 10 meeting. Ambassador Bolton opposed a call between President Zelensky and President Trump out of concern that it “would be a disaster.”

Needless to say, the Ukrainians in the meetings were confused. Ambassador Bolton, in the regular Ukraine policy decision-making channel, wanted to talk about security, energy, and reform; Ambassador Sondland, a participant in the irregular channel, wanted to talk about the connection between a White House meeting and Ukrainian investigations.

Mr. Taylor complained to Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, that it was “folly” to withhold military aid.

Near the end of Ambassador Bolton’s visit, I asked to meet him privately, during which I expressed to him my serious concern about the withholding of military assistance to Ukraine while the Ukrainians were defending their country from Russian aggression. Ambassador Bolton recommended that I send a first-person cable to Secretary Pompeo directly, relaying my concerns. I wrote and transmitted such a cable on August 29, describing the “folly” I saw in withholding military aid to Ukraine at a time when hostilities were still active in the east and when Russia was watching closely to gauge the level of American support for the Ukrainian government. I told the secretary that I could not and would not defend such a policy. Although I received no specific response, I heard that soon thereafter, the Secretary carried the cable with him to a meeting at the White House focused on security assistance for Ukraine.

6. Demands were made for secrecy and career officials, including Taylor, were left in the dark about key events.
I sensed something odd when Ambassador Sondland told me on June 28 that he did not wish to include most of the regular interagency participants in a call planned with President Zelensky later that day. Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Volker, Secretary [Rick] Perry, and I were on this call, dialing in from different locations. However, Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelensky to the call.

Later he said,

On July 25, President Trump and President Zelensky had the long-awaited phone conversation. Strangely, even though I was Chief of Mission and was scheduled to meet with President Zelensky along with Ambassador Volker the following day, I received no readout of the call from the White House. The Ukrainian government issued a short, cryptic summary.


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JohnRussell
1  seeder  JohnRussell    4 weeks ago

Remember just a week or so ago when all we heard from the conservatives was that Trump never mentioned the Bidens. 

The thing about all this that I find interesting is how much his meddling in Ukraine lends credence to the belief that he colluded with Russia as well.  

Russia Hoax?   I think not. 

Trump was almost home free. Mueller never came up with a smoking gun. But like the moron that he is, Trump couldnt leave well enough alone. 

 
 
 
Ozzwald
1.1  Ozzwald  replied to  JohnRussell @1    4 weeks ago
Mueller never came up with a smoking gun.

Yeah he did.  Democrats were just too afraid to use it.  Explaining the obstruction charges were too technical/complicated to get public backing, let alone convince any Republican in the Senate to support.  Republicans would only vote against Trump, if it is showed that their job would be on the line otherwise. 

That's why we are starting to see cracks now, even a FoxNews poll showed 51% support of impeachment AND REMOVAL.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2  seeder  JohnRussell    4 weeks ago
https://theweek.com/articles/873611/william-taylors-testimony-should-game-over-trump

Tuesday, William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, delivered closed-doors testimony to Congress that would have promptly ended any presidency in American history prior to this one. Taylor, a pro's pro who Trump's amateur goons really should not have messed with, made it clear that there was indeed an organized, not-very-secret conspiracy to extort the government of Ukraine in exchange for announcing phony investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and Ukraine's alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

It was all there — the quid, the pro, the quo, the whole sordid scheme laid out end-to-end and narrated capably by a career foreign service officer who is obviously about 300 times brighter and better than any of the dim bulbs who carried out the extortion scheme. Lawmakers told reporters that there were "audible gasps" of shock during Taylor's opening statement. It's good to know, at least, that on day 1,005 of Donald Trump's corrupt misrule, it is still possible to be made freshly aghast at his contemptible behavior.

In his statement, Taylor says he accepted his May appointment reluctantly, both out of respect for deposed Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and because he had already heard rumors of an out-of-control Rudy Giuliani freelancing American foreign policy totally outside normal channels. He arrived in Kiev to find that new President Volodymyr Zelensky was vigorously pursuing his reform agenda and that "a new Ukraine might finally be breaking from its corrupt post-Soviet past."

Unfortunately, Taylor discovered that, like with anything that Donald Trump has so much as brushed a shoulder against, U.S. policy in Ukraine had been turned into a hash intended to benefit the president directly rather than either the American or Ukrainian people. You should read the gory details yourself, but to sum up: Taylor quickly realized that a cabal including Giuliani, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and former Special Representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker were carrying out a demented plan to force Zelensky to announce investigations into Burisma (the company Hunter Biden worked for) as well as the Pizzagate-level fever dream that the Ukrainians were somehow hiding the DNC server that was hacked by Russia in 2016, and that on that server is evidence that it was all a Democratic hoax.

No one, Taylor realized, was even being especially coy about what they were doing. Freshly emboldened by Attorney General William Barr's successful blunting of the Mueller Report, Trump and his minions seemed to believe that they could get away with anything.

Taylor noted that in August of 2019, "I became increasingly concerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policymaking and by the withholding of vital security assistance for domestic political reasons." This, of course, we already knew from Taylor's already-released text messages with Volker and Sondland. But Taylor brought the receipts Trump's idiotic wise guys printed out for him.

On one call between these keystone kleptocrats and Zelensky, Taylor says that Sondland insisted that no one transcribe the proceedings. Taylor, with James Comey-level fastidiousness, memorialized these kinds of events with contemporaneous memos to his superiors. By mid-July, he says "it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on the investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections." He learned of the hold that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney put on nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine on July 18. On July 20, he discovered that Sondland had instructed Zelensky to use the language "I will leave no stone unturned" when announcing the faux-investigations that Trump's cabal was demanding. He was, suspiciously, not provided a readout of President Trump's much-scrutinized July 25 call with Zelensky.

Word of the security-assistance holdup leaked to the press on August 29. Taylor revealed that he cabled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that day with concerns about the still-unfolding fiasco. A few days later, Tim Morrison, Trump's new top Russia adviser who replaced Fiona Hill, told Taylor that Sondland had told top Zelensky adviser Adriy Yermak that the security assistance would not be released until the investigations were launched.

But the most damning part was yet to come. When Taylor texted Sondland his concerns about this situation, Sondland had replied "Call me." According to Taylor, Sondland lied in his testimony about what was said on that call. Taylor says Sondland told him that "everything" was dependent on the announcement of investigations — the security assistance and the White House visit that Zelenksy desperately wanted. He said that President Trump wanted to put Zelensky "in a public box" until he caved and agreed to interfere in the 2020 election. He described a September 7 conversation between Sondland and the president in which Trump insisted that there was no quid pro quo but that Zelensky had to "go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference."

Sometime between September 7 and September 11, perhaps finally realizing the paper trail they were creating and that multiple officials were about to blow the lid on it, the plot was abandoned. The aid was released on September 11, and Taylor continued to try to convince Zelensky not to launch these investigations, which he did not. End of caper — or it would have been had the whistleblower not come forward, setting into motion the gravest crisis of Trump's presidency.

For those who might be inclined to believe that "we do that all the time," in the now-infamous words of soon-to-be-under-the-bus Mulvaney, and for the 46 percent of Americans who told New York Times pollsters that this is more or less what they expect of government officials anyway, it is worth a reminder that even by the incredibly lax standards of a city overrun by lobbyists, grifters and rent-seekers, Trump and Giuliani's Ukraine plot was both illegal in a legal sense and totally insane as a foreign policy. It was illegal because it violated the Federal Election Campaign Act's prohibition on soliciting a thing of value (dirt on Biden and the Democrats) from a foreign national, and it would be so even if Hunter Biden spent 2015 stuffing his pants with laundered Ukrainian cash, which he did not.

In less dry terms, the nonsense investigations that Trump's henchmen sought from Zelensky would have immediately destroyed Joe Biden's campaign and led to endless, negative speculation about the DNC, all based on a pile of b.s. so high it would eclipse Trump Tower. It is an incredible abuse of power, the act of a madman drunk on his power and operating with the not-unreasonable belief that his impunity is total and timeless, a crook who surrounds himself with other crooks who are too dumb to get away with their crimes.

And whether you think the U.S. should put two divisions on the Ukraine-Russia border or leave the place to Russia's untender mercy, we should be able to agree at least that our foreign policy decisions should be based on some informed calculation of our security needs, rather than the election designs of a would-be-dictator. The president simply does not care about America's interests, or Ukraine's, or ours. He's willing to commit broad-daylight crimes to save his skin next year, and he'll throw anyone to the wolves if they don't serve that naked desire.

Taylor's testimony sets the stage for more fireworks — Sondland will have to come back to testify again, and it is now pretty clear that everyone from Pompeo to Vice President Mike Pence was aware of this illegal scheme. There will be months of "what did they know and when did they know it" questions. Further revelations are inevitable, and pity the GOP stooges who have to fan out across DC to defend the president against Taylor's allegations.


The bigger picture is this: The president of the United States is a corrupt, oafish criminal willing to twist American foreign policy to benefit his re-election prospects, and willing to brazenly violate the law and abuse the powers of his office to do so. In a sane country with properly functioning political institutions and parties, this maniac would be forced to slink out of the White House tomorrow and hold his arms out for the handcuffs. That he still has, as of today, the support of both his congressional sycophants as well as the enthusiastic admiration of his rank-and-file voters suggests that this country is much more vulnerable to a slow-motion authoritarian takeover than even the most alarmist critics suspected at the outset of this nightmare presidency.

We're all in a very "public box" right now, and there is still only one way out: to impeach this terrible man and remove him from office.
 
 
 
Ronin2
3  Ronin2    4 weeks ago

Remember when hearsay was considered bullshit? Also, this was closed door testimony; yet sure enough there are titanic sized leaks already. Dems eagerly pushing their narrative.

Taylor mentions a lot of peoples' name- only 1 or 2 of which he seems to have had a direct conversation with.

So why wasn't Taylor the original whistleblower? If he had all of this first hand damning evidence?

Taylor, and all those he named need to be fully cross examined. Something the Democrats are unwilling to do. Seems that the concept of an open investigation is beyond them.

 
 
 
Snuffy
3.1  Snuffy  replied to  Ronin2 @3    4 weeks ago

And the leaks and comments are all cherry-picked based on what side you are on. It's crazy.

We are being "Gruber'ed" again...

 
 
 
Ozzwald
3.2  Ozzwald  replied to  Ronin2 @3    4 weeks ago
Remember when hearsay was considered bullshit?

During an investigation?  Nope, don't remember that at all.

Also, this was closed door testimony; yet sure enough there are titanic sized leaks already. Dems eagerly pushing their narrative.

It is an investigation, of course it is closed door, or else you'd have puppet Nunes Ubering to the White house with all the info and witness lists........again.

Taylor mentions a lot of peoples' name- only 1 or 2 of which he seems to have had a direct conversation with.

So?

So why wasn't Taylor the original whistleblower?

Because he was a good Trump stooge until prison became a real threat?

Taylor, and all those he named need to be fully cross examined.

You keep "forgetting", this is an investigation not a trial.

Something the Democrats are unwilling to do.

Why would they cross examine themselves?  I think you're getting confused again.

Seems that the concept of an open investigation is beyond them.

jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

Why don't you ask your local police department why they don't post their investigation details in the newspapers, so the suspects can keep track of the status of the investigation?  After all it wouldn't be fair to catch the suspect off guard....jrSmiley_88_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Nerm_L
4  Nerm_L    4 weeks ago

Actually there are only two take-aways from William Taylor's sworn deposition (otherwise called an opening statement).  Keep in mind that the Obama administration removed William Taylor as Ambassador to Ukraine in 2009, so Taylor doesn't have any direct knowledge of the relationship between Obama administration and the Ukrainian government.  Taylor returned to Ukraine in June, 2019, as chargé d'affaires and was subsequently appointed Ambassador to Ukraine in July, 2019.  Taylor wouldn't have direct knowledge of the relationship between the US government and the Ukrainian government before June, 2019.

First take-away, Burisma is a central figure in Ukraine's problems with corruption.  Joe Biden supposedly leveraged US loan guarantees to force Ukraine to be more aggressive towards investigating and prosecuting corruption.  Yet, somehow, Burisma was let off the hook after being a target of investigation into corruption.  Was Burisma let off the hook because the company was not involved in corruption or was Burisma let off the hook because of political pressure to stop the investigation?  A demand to investigate Burisma isn't the same as demanding an investigation of the Bidens.  

The second take-away is that the US embassy in Ukraine has been engaged in a cold war style proxy war with Russia using Ukraine as the proxy.  And the United States has engaged in the cold war policies of transforming Ukraine into a military outpost directly confronting Russia militarily with US supplied arms.  The US embassy in Kiev is engaged in much more than diplomatic functions.  The facts are that Russia is not going to give up Crimea and the north shore of the Black Sea.  And the result of US policy to confront Russia in Ukraine appears to allowed Russia to make inroads in Turkey and gain control of the southern shore of the Black Sea.  The US neo-con policy to use proxies to confront Russia has always failed; the United States has not won a proxy war yet.  

 
 
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