Bill Taylor has served as the chargé d’affaires ad interim for Ukraine since the start of this last summer, when the ambassador from the U.S. to that nation was removed from her position by the Trump administration.
On Monday, Taylor testified before House investigators leading the impeachment inquiry, providing damning evidence that suggests there was a quid pro quo for that nation, requiring its leaders to open and publicly announce an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, as well as an investigation looking into a DNC server that some have theorized (without evidence) exists in Ukraine, in order to secure military aid from the U.S. and a meeting with Trump.
Taylor told investigators, per reporting from CNN’s Manu Raju, that EU Ambassadord Gordon Sondland explained the quid pro quo to him in those terms.
Taylor said that he and Sondland spoke by phone about why the aid was frozen, and Sondland cited the need for Ukraine to open an investigation among other reasons, according to the sources
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 22, 2019
Taylor said he had spoken to Sondland directly by phone about the matter, and said that Sondland had told him that the holdup in military aid was done for a number of reasons — among them, the need for the investigations to be opened up.
A source detailing Taylor’s testimony to Politico on Tuesday said that his opening statement was 15 pages long. Far from being boring or slow-paced, the source said the details it provided to investigators prompted “a lot of sighs and gasps” from individuals who were in the room.
Taylor was part of a noteworthy exchange of text messages between himself, Sondland, and other State Department officials that was revealed earlier this month, regarding the aid being withheld from Ukraine by the Trump administration. In his text to the group chat, Taylor asked, “Are we now saying that security assistance and [White House] meeting are conditioned on investigations?”
The impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Donald Trump centers around a conversation he had with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 of this year. Just days prior, the Trump administration froze aid meant to go to Ukraine to assist them in defending their borders against Russian encroachments.
On the day of the call, Trump allegedly pressured Zelensky to open up investigations into the Bidens and the DNC server, the latter of which many believe is a conspiracy theory that has been fed to Trump by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the New York Times reported.
Democrats allege Trump’s conversation with Zelensky reaches the threshold of impeachment, in terms of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as laid out in the U.S. Constitution, as it appears to demonstrate Trump used his influence as president to motivate a foreign leader to open investigations that could benefit him politically.
Rep. Steven Lynch of Massachusetts called Taylor’s testimony “a sea change” that could “accelerate” the impeachment process, according to a tweet from ABC News reporter Ben Siegel.