Ukraine Diplomat Bill Taylor Confirms “Crazy” Quid Pro Quo in Explosive Testimony  – News


The Trump administration’s claim that President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden and the 2016 election did not amount to a quid pro quo has been unraveling for a while now First there were the explosive text messages that mentioned “withhold[ing] security for help with a political campaign,” then came Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s press conference, in which he suggested aid to Ukraine was suspended over Trump’s desired investigations—and then shrugged it off and claimed the administration does similar things “all the time ” (Mulvaney later walked back his comments and blamed the press for “misconstruing” his remarks ) On Tuesday, the most damning evidence yet of a quid pro quo came courtesy of Bill Taylor, who serves as charge d’affaires at the U S. embassy in Ukraine. In his damaging testimony to the House committees investigating impeachment, Taylor confirmed that he believed there to be a clear quid pro quo arrangement, in which the Trump administration withheld military aid to Ukraine—which had already been passed by Congress—unless Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to investigate the president’s political rivals and say so publicly Recounting one conversation, Taylor said that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland had told Zelensky and assistant Adriy Yermak, “although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelenskyy did not ‘clear things up’ in public, we would be at a ‘stalemate ’” “I understood a ‘stalemate’ to mean that Ukraine would not receive the much-needed military assistance,” Taylor testified  Taylor, a military veteran and career diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Ukraine under George W Bush, walked lawmakers through his experience with the Trump administration in his Ukraine role, during which time he quickly realized there “appeared to be two channels of U S. policy-making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular.” The “irregular” one, being directed by Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Rudy Giuliani, was pushing the Ukrainian investigation into Trump’s rivals, and, Taylor testified, “running contrary to the goals of longstanding U S. policy” and “fundamentally undermin[ing]” the U.S.’s relationship with Ukraine as a result While Taylor was not initially told about the reasoning behind the decision to withhold funding to Ukraine—and never received a readout of Trump’s infamous July 25 call with Zelensky, a decision that the diplomat called “strange”—Taylor testified that he came to understand that the aid was being held up over the investigations “Ambassador Sondland told Mr. Yermak that security assistance money would not come until President Zelenskyy committed to pursue the Burisma investigation,” Taylor testified, referring to the Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter Biden previously served  The quid pro quo pressure on Ukraine appeared to come from Trump directly, according to Taylor’s testimony The diplomat testified to Congress that he had been told by National Security Council Ukraine specialist Tim Morrison that while the president said he “was not asking for a ‘quid pro quo’,” Trump “did insist that President Zelenskyy go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelenskyy should want to do this himself ” “During our call on September 8, Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman,” Taylor testified “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 ” (The diplomat added that he believed that argument “made no sense,” as “the Ukrainians did not ‘owe’ President Trump anything ”) Taylor, who was a participant in the incriminating text messages Volker turned over to Congress, also gave more context to the now-public conversations After Taylor texted, “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” and Sondland replied, “Call me,” Taylor testified that he had a phone conversation with Sondland, in which the ambassador outright confirmed a quid pro quo “During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelenskyy to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U S. election,” Taylor testified. “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 Sondland, Taylor added, “said that President Trump wanted President Zelenskyy ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations ” Taylor continued to stand by his belief that the quid pro quo arrangement was “crazy,” as he had said in a text message to Sondland and Volker “I said on September 9 in a message to Ambassador Gordon Sondland that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be ‘crazy,’” Taylor told lawmakers “I believed that then, and I still believe that.”Most PopularJohn Bolton Called Giuliani a “Hand Grenade” Whose Ukraine Dealings Would Blow Everyone UpBy Bess LevinReport: Putin, Orban Planted Anti-Ukraine Theories In Trump’s HeadBy Eric LutzExplosive Texts Reveal Trump-Ukraine Quid Pro QuoBy Eric LutzAdvertisement The diplomat’s opening statement Tuesday reportedly elicited “gasps” from the lawmakers who were present—“The body language of the people hearing it was, ‘holy s—,’” Rep Harley Rouda told Politico—and Rep. Stephen Lynch told the outlet that the testimony was a “sea change” that potentially “could accelerate” the House’s impeachment inquiry “It was just the most damning testimony I’ve heard,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told the Washington Post “He drew a very specific direct line from President Trump to the withholding of foreign aid and the refusal of a meeting ” The White House has shrugged off Taylor’s statements, releasing a statement that calls the testimony “a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution” and insists “there was no quid pro quo ” But while Politico notes the president’s Republican allies so far appear to be standing behind Trump in the immediate aftermath of Taylor’s nearly 10 hour long testimony, the respected diplomat’s explicit description of a quid pro quo is going to make their desperate attempts to spin the Ukraine situation and defend the president even more difficult Sondland, who received his ambassadorship after donating $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, also now has a particularly difficult path forward, as Taylor’s testimony seemingly contradicts the ambassador’s recent claims to Congress that he didn’t know whether there was a quid pro quo “There were many things that Ambassador Sondland didn’t remember that Ambassador Taylor remembered in excruciating detail,” Wasserman Schultz told the Post As a result, some lawmakers are now pushing for Sondland to return to Capitol Hill to testify once again—or potentially even face perjury charges, per CBS News journalist Olivia Gazis “After today, Mr. Sondland is going to have some explaining to do,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi told Politico  — How one industry is bleeding Wall Street dry of talent— Ronan Farrow’s producer reveals how NBC killed its Weinstein story— Ivanka’s $360 million deal is raising eyebrows at the FBI— The big turn for Elizabeth Warren’s campaign— Why a leading neurocriminologist left Joker completely stunned— The Fox News movie’s uncanny depictions of the network’s drama— From the Archive: The real-life story of the security guard turned bombing suspect at the heart of Clint Eastwood’s latest movie Looking for more? Sign up for our daily Hive newsletter and never miss a story




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