Ukraine Ambassador Bill Taylor, testifying in the first day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, revealed a new bit of information that wasn’t yet public knowledge.
Taylor said that, following his deposition given last month before House investigators, he was made aware by members of his staff about a phone conversation between EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland and President Donald Trump during a dinner that included those staffers and Sondland on July 26 — the day after the now-infamous phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations,'” Taylor said on Wednesday, according to a tweet from CNBC White House reporter Christina Wilkie. “Ambassador Sondland told PresidentTrump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.”
Full transcript from Taylor. This raises new questions for Sondland to answer. pic.twitter.com/gtvRQSzvTq
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) November 13, 2019
It’s unclear if the “investigations” being referred to in the call are the same that Trump requested as a “favor” to him in the July 25 phone call with Zelensky.
The revelation made by Taylor had some on social media questioning who else might have heard the call. Ned Price, the former spokesperson for President Barack Obama’s National Security Council (and who also worked as a CIA agent), tweeted out his own response to Taylor’s testimony, suggesting that the call between Trump and Sondland probably wasn’t a secure one.
This isn't the most important implication, but the fact that Trump was speaking to Sondland — who was using a cell phone in Ukraine — almost certainly means the Russians were listening, too.
Imagine the leverage that knowledge of Trump's betrayal and extortion gave them. https://t.co/0rQAj9wU8I
— Ned Price (@nedprice) November 13, 2019
“This isn’t the most important implication, but the fact that Trump was speaking to Sondland — who was using a cell phone in Ukraine — almost certainly means the Russians were listening, too,” Price wrote.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that diplomat George Kent — who is also testifying on Wednesday — believed that Trump’s views about Ukraine were tainted by other foreign actors, including Russia, as early as this last spring.
“Both [Russia President Vladimir] Putin and [Hungary Prime Minister Viktor] Orban extensively talked Ukraine down, said it was corrupt, said Zelenskiy was in the thrall of oligarchs,” Kent said during his deposition, according to NBC News.