Openingsverklaring deur ambassadeur Bill Taylor 22 Oktober 2019 - Geskiedenis

Openingsverklaring deur ambassadeur Bill Taylor 22 Oktober 2019 - Geskiedenis

Meneer die voorsitter, ek waardeer die geleentheid om vandag te verskyn om my perspektief te gee op die gebeure waaroor die komitees ondersoek. My uitsluitlike doel is om die komitees my mening te gee oor die strategiese belangrikheid van die Oekraïne vir die Verenigde State, asook bykomende inligting oor die betrokke voorvalle.

Ek het my lewe daaraan gewy om Amerikaanse belange in die binneland en in die buiteland te dien in beide militêre en burgerlike rolle. My agtergrond en ervaring is onpartydig en ek is sedert 1985 vereer om onder elke administrasie, Republikein en Demokrate, te dien.

Ek dien 50 jaar lank die land, begin as kadet by West Point, daarna as infanteriebeampte vir ses jaar, onder meer by die 101ste lugafdeling in Viëtnam; dan by die Departement van Energie; dan as 'n lid van 'n senaat; dan by die NAVO; dan met die staatsdepartement hier en in die buiteland - in Afghanistan, Irak, Jerusalem en Oekraïne; en meer onlangs, as uitvoerende vise -president van die onpartydige Instituut vir Vrede van die Verenigde State.

Alhoewel ek op baie plekke en in verskillende hoedanighede diens gedoen het, het ek veral belang in en respek vir die belangrikheid van ons land se verhouding met die Oekraïne. Ons nasionale veiligheid vereis dat hierdie verhouding sterk bly, maar in Augustus en September van hierdie jaar het ek al hoe meer bekommerd geraak dat ons verhouding met die Oekraïne fundamenteel ondermyn word deur 'n onreëlmatige, informele kanaal van Amerikaanse beleidmaking en deur die weerhouding van belangrike veiligheidshulp om binnelandse politieke redes. Ek hoop dat my opmerkings vandag die komitees sal help om te verstaan ​​waarom ek geglo het dat dit die geval is.

Aan die begin wil ek 'n paar belangrike punte oordra. Eerstens is die Oekraïne 'n strategiese vennoot van die Verenigde State, belangrik vir die veiligheid van ons land sowel as Europa. Tweedens, Oekraïne is op hierdie oomblik - terwyl ons in hierdie kamer sit - en die afgelope vyf jaar onder gewapende aanval van Rusland. Derdens is die veiligheidshulp wat ons bied van deurslaggewende belang vir die verdediging van die Oekraïne teen Russiese aggressie, en, nog belangriker, 'n sein aan Oekraïners - en Russe - dat ons die betroubare strategiese vennoot van die Oekraïne is. En laastens, soos die komitees nou bewus is, het ek op 9 September in 'n boodskap aan ambassadeur Gordon Sondland gesê dat die weerhou van veiligheidshulp in ruil vir hulp met 'n binnelandse politieke veldtog in die Verenigde State 'mal' sou wees. Ek het dit toe geglo, en ek glo dit steeds.

Laat ek die komitees nou 'n chronologie van die gebeure gee wat tot my kommer gelei het.

Op 28 Mei van hierdie jaar ontmoet ek sekretaris Mike Pompeo wat my vra om terug te keer na Kiev om ons ambassade in die Oekraïne te lei. Dit was-en is-'n kritieke tyd in die betrekkinge tussen die VSA en die Oekraïne: Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pas tot president verkies en die Oekraïne het oorlog gehou met Rusland. Namate die somer nader kom, sal 'n nuwe Oekraïense regering sit, parlementêre verkiesings op hande en die Oekraïense politieke baan vir die komende jare.

Ek het van 2006 tot 2009 as ambassadeur in die Oekraïne gedien, nadat ek deur George W. Bush genomineer is, en in die tussenliggende tien jaar het ek verloof gebly met die Oekraïne, en gereeld besoek as 2013 as raadslid van 'n klein Oekraïense nie- regeringsorganisasie wat goeie bestuur en hervorming ondersteun. Oorkant die verantwoordelikhede wat ek in die staatsdiens gehad het, is die Oekraïne vir my spesiaal, en die aanbod van sekretaris Pompeo om terug te keer as sendinghoof was oortuigend. Ek is oortuig van die groot belang van die Oekraïne vir die veiligheid van die Verenigde State en Europa om twee verwante redes:

Eerstens, as Oekraïne daarin slaag om van die Russiese invloed los te kom, is dit moontlik dat Europa heel, vry, demokraties en in vrede kan wees. As Rusland daarteenoor oorheers, sal Rusland weer 'n ryk word, sy mense onderdruk en sy bure en die res van die wêreld bedreig.

Tweedens, met die anneksasie van die Krim in 2014 en die voortgesette aggressie in Donbas, het Rusland ontelbare verdrae oortree, alle verbintenisse geïgnoreer en alle beginsels wat die vrede bewaar het en tot die welvaart in Europa sedert die Tweede Wêreldoorlog bygedra het, verwerp. Om die Oekraïne se onafhanklikheid te herstel, moet Rusland die Oekraïne verlaat. Dit was en behoort steeds 'n tweeledige Amerikaanse buitelandse beleid te wees.

Toe ek buite die regering dien tydens die Obama -administrasie en na die Russiese inval in die Oekraïne in 2014, het ek by twee ander voormalige ambassadeurs in die Oekraïne aangesluit om Obama -administrasie -amptenare by die staatsdepartement, die departement van verdediging en ander agentskappe aan te spoor om dodelike verdedigingswapens te voorsien. na die Oekraïne om verdere Russiese aggressie te weerhou. Ek het ook baie sterker sanksies teen Rusland gesteun.

Alles om te sê, ek gee om vir die toekoms van die Oekraïne en die belangrike Amerikaanse belange daar. Toe sekretaris Pompeo my vra om terug te keer na Kiev, wou ek 'ja' sê.

Maar dit was nie 'n maklike besluit nie. Die voormalige ambassadeur, Masha Yovanovitch, is swak behandel, vasgevang in 'n web van politieke gemors, sowel in Kiev as in Washington. Ek was bang dat die probleme nog steeds bestaan. Toe ek met haar praat oor die aanvaarding van die aanbod, het sy my egter aangespoor om te gaan, om beleidsredes en vir die moraal van die ambassade.

Voordat ek die sekretaris antwoord, raadpleeg ek my vrou en 'n gerespekteerde voormalige senior Republikeinse amptenaar wat vir my 'n mentor was. Ek sal jou vertel dat my vrou in 'n onsekere terme sterk teen die idee was. Die mentor het gesê: as u land u vra om iets te doen, doen u dit - as u effektief kan wees.

Ek sou slegs effektief kon wees as die Amerikaanse beleid van sterk steun aan die Oekraïne - sterk diplomatieke ondersteuning saam met sterk veiligheids-, ekonomiese en tegniese hulp - sou voortduur en as ek die steun van die minister van buitelandse sake gehad het om die beleid te implementeer. Ek was bekommerd oor wat ek gehoor het oor die rol van Rudolph Giuliani, wat verskeie opspraakwekkende verklarings gemaak het oor die Oekraïne en die Amerikaanse beleid teenoor die land. Dus, tydens my ontmoeting met sekretaris Pompeo op 28 Mei, het ek aan hom en die ander teenwoordiges duidelik gemaak dat as die Amerikaanse beleid ten opsigte van die Oekraïne verander, hy my nie daar wil laat pos nie en ek nie kan bly nie. Hy het my verseker dat die beleid van sterk steun vir die Oekraïne sal voortduur en dat hy my sal ondersteun in die verdediging van die beleid.

Met hierdie begrip het ek ingestem om terug te keer na Kiev. Omdat ek deur die sekretaris aangestel is, maar nie deur die senaat herbevestig is nie, was my amptelike pos Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.

* * * * *

Ek het op 17 Junie na Kiev teruggekeer, met die oorspronklike afskrif van 'n brief wat president Trump onderteken het die dag nadat ek met die sekretaris vergader het. In daardie brief het president Trump president Zelenskyy gelukgewens met sy verkiesingsoorwinning en hom uitgenooi na 'n vergadering in die ovaalkantoor. Ek het ook 'n geraamde afskrif van die verklaring van die sekretaris saamgebring dat die Verenigde State die onwettige Russiese anneksasie van die Krim nooit sal erken nie.

Maar toe ek in Kiev aankom, ontdek ek 'n vreemde kombinasie van bemoedigende, verwarrende en uiteindelik kommerwekkende omstandighede.

Eerstens die bemoedigende: President Zelenskyy neem haastig Oekraïne oor. Hy het hervormingsministers aangestel en ondersteun langtermyn anti-korrupsiewetgewing. Hy het vinnig uitvoerende stappe gedoen, waaronder die opening van die Oekraïne se hoë anti-korrupsiehof, wat onder die vorige presidensiële administrasie ingestel is, maar nooit toegelaat is om te werk nie. Hy het parlementêre verkiesings ontbied - sy party was so nuut dat dit geen verteenwoordiging in die Rada gehad het nie - en het later 'n oorweldigende mandaat gewen en 60 persent van die setels beheer. Met sy nuwe parlementêre meerderheid het president Zelenskyy die Oekraïense grondwet verander om absolute immuniteit van Rada -afgevaardigdes te verwyder, wat al twee dekades lank die bron van rou korrupsie was. Daar was groot opgewondenheid in Kiev dat hierdie keer anders kan wees-'n nuwe Oekraïne kan uiteindelik uit sy korrupte, post-Sowjet-verlede breek.

En tog het ek 'n verwarrende en ongewone reëling gevind om die Amerikaanse beleid teenoor die Oekraïne te maak. Daar was twee kanale vir Amerikaanse beleidmaking en implementering, een gereeld en een baie onreëlmatig. As sendinghoof het ek gesag gehad oor die gereelde, formele diplomatieke prosesse, insluitend die grootste deel van die Amerikaanse pogings om Oekraïne te ondersteun teen die Russiese inval en om korrupsie te verslaan. Hierdie gereelde kanaal van Amerikaanse beleidsvorming het sedert die onafhanklikheid van Oekraïne in 1991 deur konsekwent sterk, tweeledige steun in die kongres en in alle administrasies gehad.

Terselfdertyd was daar egter 'n onreëlmatige, informele kanaal van Amerikaanse beleidsvorming ten opsigte van die Oekraïne, een wat destyds spesiale gesant Kurt Volker, ambassadeur Sondland, minister van energie, Rick Perry insluit, en soos ek later geleer het, het mnr. . Giuliani. Ek was duidelik in die gewone kanaal, maar ek was ook in die onreëlmatige kanaal in die mate dat ambassadeurs Volker en Sondland my by sekere gesprekke ingesluit het. Alhoewel hierdie onreëlmatige kanaal in Washington goed verbind was, het dit meestal buite die amptelike kanale van die staatsdepartement gewerk. Hierdie onreëlmatige kanaal het begin toe ambassadeur Volker, ambassadeur Sondland, sekretaris Perry en senator Ron Johnson president Trump op 23 Mei ingelig het toe hulle teruggekeer het van die inhuldiging van president Zelenskyy. Die afvaardiging keer terug na Washington entoesiasties oor die nuwe Oekraïense president en spoor president Trump aan om vroeg met hom te vergader om die verhouding tussen die VSA en die Oekraïne te versterk. Maar wat ek verstaan, het president Trump nie hul entoesiasme vir 'n ontmoeting met Zelensky gedeel nie.

Toe ek in Junie en Julie die eerste keer in Kiev aankom, het die optrede van beide die gewone en die onreëlmatige buitelandse beleid dieselfde doel gedien- 'n sterk Amerikaanse

Oekraïne -vennootskap - maar in Augustus het dit vir my duidelik geword dat die kanale in hul doelwitte verskil. Namate dit gebeur het, het ek al hoe meer bekommerd geraak.

Aan die einde van Junie was die doel van albei kanale om 'n besoek deur president Zelenskyy aan die Withuis te vergemaklik vir 'n ontmoeting met president Trump, wat president Trump belowe het in sy gelukwensingsbrief van 29 Mei. Die Oekraïners was duidelik gretig vir die vergadering om te gebeur. Tydens 'n telefoongesprek met ambassadeur Volker, waarnemende assistent -minister van Buitelandse Sake vir Europese en Eurasiese Sake, Phil Reeker, sekretaris Perry, ambassadeur Sondland en raadgewer van die Amerikaanse ministerie van buitelandse sake, Ulrich Brechbuhl, was dit duidelik dat 'n vergadering tussen die twee presidente was 'n ooreengekome doel.

Maar tydens my daaropvolgende kommunikasie met ambassadeurs Volker en Sondland het hulle aan my gesê dat die president 'van Zelenskyy wou hoor' voordat hy die vergadering in die Ovaalkantoor sou beplan. Dit was nie vir my duidelik wat dit beteken nie.

Op 27 Junie het ambassadeur Sondland tydens 'n telefoongesprek vir my gesê dat president Zelenskyy aan president Trump moes duidelik maak dat hy, president Zelensky, nie 'ondersoek' belemmer nie.

Ek het iets vreemds gevoel toe ambassadeur Sondland op 28 Junie vir my gesê het dat hy nie die meeste van die gereelde interagency -deelnemers wou insluit in 'n oproep wat later die dag met president Zelenskyy beplan is nie. Ambassadeur Sondland, ambassadeur Volker, sekretaris Perry, en ek was op hierdie oproep en bel van verskillende plekke af. Ambassadeur Sondland het egter gesê dat hy wil seker maak dat niemand die transkripsie of monitering doen nie, terwyl hulle president Zelenskyy by die oproep voeg. Voordat president Zelenskyy by die oproep aangesluit het, het ambassadeur Volker afsonderlik aan die Amerikaanse deelnemers gesê dat hy, ambassadeur Volker, beplan om op 2 Julie met president Zelenskyy duidelik te wees in 'n een-tot-een-vergadering in Toronto oor wat president Zelenskyy moet doen om te kry die Withuis se vergadering. Weereens was dit nie vir my duidelik op die oproep wat dit beteken nie, maar ambassadeur Volker het opgemerk dat hy sou meedeel dat president Trump wil sien dat die oppergesag van die reg, deursigtigheid, maar ook spesifiek samewerking oor ondersoeke 'tot die punt kom' dinge. ” Nadat president Zelensky by die oproep aangesluit het, was die gesprek gefokus op energiebeleid en die Stanytsia-Luhanska-brug. President Zelenskyy het ook gesê dat hy uitsien na die besoek aan die Withuis wat president Trump in sy brief van 29 Mei aangebied het.

Ek het verslag gedoen oor hierdie oproep aan die adjunk -assistent -minister van buitelandse sake, George Kent, wat verantwoordelik was vir die Oekraïne, en ek het 'n memorandum vir die verslag van 30 Junie geskryf wat ons gesprek met president Zelenskyy opgesom het.

Middel Julie het dit vir my duidelik geword dat die vergadering wat president Zelenskyy wou hê, gekondisioneer is op die ondersoeke na Burisma en beweerde inmenging van die Oekraïne in die Amerikaanse verkiesings in 2016. Dit was ook duidelik dat hierdie toestand gedryf is deur die onreëlmatige beleidskanaal wat ek verstaan ​​het, gelei deur mnr. Giuliani.

Op 10 Julie het die Oekraïense amptenare Alexander Danyliuk, die Oekraïense adviseur vir nasionale veiligheid, en Andriy Yermak, 'n assistent van president Zelenskyy, en sekretaris Perry, destydse nasionale veiligheidsadviseur John Bolton, ambassadeur Volker en ambassadeur Sondland byeengekom in die Withuis. Ek het nie aan die vergadering deelgeneem nie en ek het dit nie eers gelees voordat ek met die destydse senior direkteur van Europese Nasionale Veiligheidsraad (NSS), Fiona Hill, en die direkteur van Europese Sake, Alex Vindman, in gesprek getree het nie. 19 Julie.

Op 10 Julie in Kiev ontmoet ek met president Zelenskyy se personeelhoof, Andrei Bohdan, en destydse adviseur vir buitelandse beleid van die president en nou Vadym Prystaiko, minister van buitelandse sake, wat my vertel het dat hulle van mnr. Giuliani gehoor het dat die telefoonoproep tussen dit is onwaarskynlik dat die twee presidente sou gebeur en dat hulle ontsteld en teleurgesteld was. Ek het hul kommer aan raadgewer Brechbuhl oorgedra.

In 'n gereelde NSC-videokonferensie-oproep op 18 Julie het ek 'n personeellid van die kantoor van bestuur en begroting (OMB) hoor sê dat daar 'n beperking op veiligheidshulp aan die Oekraïne was, maar ek kon nie sê hoekom nie. Teen die einde van 'n andersins normale vergadering, het 'n stem op die oproep-die persoon was van die skerm af-gesê dat sy van OMB is en dat haar baas haar opdrag gegee het om geen verdere uitgawes van veiligheidshulp vir Oekraïne tot verdere kennisgewing goed te keur nie. Ek en ander sit verstom - die Oekraïners veg teen die Russe en vertrou nie net op die opleiding en wapens nie, maar ook op die versekering van Amerikaanse ondersteuning. Al wat die OMB -personeellid gesê het, is dat die opdrag van die president na die stafhoof by OMB gekom het. In 'n oogwink besef ek dat een van die belangrikste pilare van ons sterk steun aan die Oekraïne bedreig word. Die onreëlmatige beleidskanaal was in stryd met die doelwitte van 'n jarelange Amerikaanse beleid.

Daarna volg 'n reeks interagency-vergaderings onder leiding van die NSS, wat op personeelvlak begin en vinnig die vlak van die kabinetsekretarisse bereik het. By elke vergadering het die

eenparige gevolgtrekking was dat die veiligheidshulp hervat moet word, die houvas opgehef word. Op 'n stadium is die departement van verdediging gevra om 'n ontleding van die doeltreffendheid van die hulp te doen. Binne 'n dag kom die departement van verdediging terug met die vasberadenheid dat die hulp effektief was en hervat moet word. My verstand was dat die sekretarisse van verdediging en staat, die CIA -direkteur en die nasionale veiligheidsadviseur 'n gesamentlike vergadering met die president gesoek het om hom te oortuig om die bevel vry te laat, maar so 'n vergadering was moeilik om te beplan en die houvas het tot in September geduur .

Die volgende dag telefonies het dr. Hill en mnr. Vindman my probeer verseker dat hulle nie bewus was van enige amptelike verandering in die Amerikaanse beleid ten opsigte van die Oekraïne nie, ondanks die aankondiging van OMB. Hulle het wel bevestig dat die veiligheidshulp vir die Oekraïne afkomstig was van stafhoof Mick Mulvaney en dat die stafhoof 'n skeptiese siening van die Oekraïne handhaaf.

In dieselfde telefoonoproep van 19 Julie het hulle my verslag gegee van die vergadering van 10 Julie met die Oekraïense amptenare in die Withuis. Hulle het spesifiek vir my gesê dat ambassadeur Sondland 'ondersoeke' gekoppel het aan 'n Oval Office -vergadering vir president Zelenskyy, wat ambassadeur Bolton so geïrriteer het dat hy die vergadering skielik beëindig en aan dr Vindman gesê het dat hulle niks met binnelandse politiek te doen het nie. Hy het ook dr. Hill opdrag gegee om 'die prokureurs in kennis te stel'. Dr Hill het gesê dat ambassadeur Bolton hierna 'n 'dwelmooreenkoms' noem na die vergadering van 10 Julie. Ambassadeur Bolton het gekant teen 'n oproep tussen president Zelenskyy en president Trump uit kommer dat dit ''n ramp sou wees'.

Nodeloos om te sê, die Oekraïners in die vergaderings was verward. Ambassadeur Bolton, in die gewone besluitnemingskanaal in die Oekraïne, wou praat oor veiligheid, energie en hervorming; Ambassadeur Sondland, 'n deelnemer aan die onreëlmatige kanaal, wou praat oor die verband tussen 'n vergadering in die Withuis en Oekraïense ondersoeke.

Ook tydens ons oproep van 19 Julie het dr. Hill my meegedeel dat ambassadeur Volker met mnr. Giuliani vergader het om die Oekraïne te bespreek. Dit het my verbaas. Die volgende dag het ek ambassadeur Volker uitgevra oor die vergadering, maar geen reaksie gekry nie. Ek het begin besef dat die twee besluitnemingskanale - die gewone en onreëlmatige - afsonderlik en teenstrydig is.

Later op 19 Julie en vroeg in die oggend van 20 Julie (Kiev tyd), het ek sms'e ontvang op 'n drie-rigting WhatsApp-SMS-gesprek met ambassadeurs Volker en Sondland, waarvan ek weet dat ek reeds 'n rekord daarvan

Komitees deur ambassadeur Volker. Ambassadeur Sondland het gesê dat 'n oproep tussen president Trump en president Zelenskyy binnekort sal plaasvind. Ambassadeur Volker het gesê dat die belangrikste ding is dat Zelensky moet sê dat hy die ondersoek sal help - en spesifieke personeelkwessies sal aanspreek - indien daar is.

Later op 20 Julie het ek 'n telefoongesprek met ambassadeur Sondland gehad terwyl hy op 'n trein van Parys na Londen was, en ambassadeur Sondland het vir my gesê dat hy aan president Zelenskyy aanbeveel het dat hy die uitdrukking "Ek laat geen steen onaangeroer" met met betrekking tot 'ondersoeke' toe president Zelenskyy met president Trump gepraat het.

Ek het ook op 20 Julie 'n telefoongesprek met Danyliuk gehad, waartydens hy aan my gesê het dat president Zelensky nie as pion in 'n Amerikaanse herverkiesingsveldtog gebruik wil word nie. Die volgende dag stuur ek 'n SMS aan beide ambassadeurs Volker en Sondland oor die kommer van president Zelensky.

Op 25 Julie het president Trump en president Zelenskyy die langverwagte telefoongesprek gevoer. Vreemd genoeg, alhoewel ek die sendinghoof was en die volgende dag met president Zelenskyy en ambassadeur Volker sou vergader, het ek nie die oproep van die Withuis ontvang nie. Die Oekraïense regering het 'n kort, kriptiese opsomming uitgereik.

Tydens 'n voorheen beplande vergadering van 26 Julie, het president Zelenskyy aan ambassadeur Volker en my gesê dat hy tevrede is met die oproep, maar nie uitgebrei nie. President Zelenskyy vra toe uit oor die aangesig-tot-aangesig-vergadering in die Oval Office, soos belowe in die brief van 29 Mei van president Trump.

Na ons ontmoeting met president Zelensky, het ambassadeur Volker en ek na die voorste linie in die noorde van Donbas gereis om 'n inligtingsessie van die bevelvoerder van die magte oor die kontaklyn te ontvang. Toe ons by die inligtingsessie in die militêre hoofkwartier aankom, bedank die bevelvoerder ons vir veiligheidshulp, maar ek was bewus daarvan dat hierdie hulp opgehou het, wat my ongemaklik gemaak het.

Ambassadeur Volker en ek kon die gewapende en vyandige Russiese geleide magte aan die ander kant van die beskadigde brug oor die kontaklyn sien. Meer as 13 000 Oekraïners is een of twee per week in die oorlog dood. Meer Oekraïners sou ongetwyfeld sterf sonder die hulp van die VSA.

Alhoewel ek die oggend van 26 Julie saam met president Zelenskyy en ander Oekraïense amptenare deurgebring het, was die eerste opsomming van die Trump-Zelenskyy-oproep wat ek van iemand binne die Amerikaanse regering gehoor het, tydens 'n telefoonoproep wat ek met Tim Morrison gehad het, Dr. Hill se onlangse plaasvervanger by die NSS, op 28 Julie. Mnr. Morrison het vir my gesê dat die oproep 'beter kon gewees het' en dat president Trump voorgestel het dat president Zelenskyy of sy personeel met die heer Giuliani en die prokureur -generaal William Barr sou vergader. Ek het geen amptelike uitlees van die oproep gesien voordat dit op 25 September in die openbaar bekend gemaak is nie.

Op 16 Augustus het ek sms -boodskappe met ambassadeur Volker uitgeruil waarin ek verneem het dat mnr. Yeriak gevra het dat die Verenigde State 'n amptelike versoek vir 'n ondersoek na Burisma se beweerde oortredings van die Oekraïense wet indien, as dit is wat die Verenigde State verlang. 'N Formele Amerikaanse versoek aan die Oekraïners om 'n ondersoek te doen op grond van oortredings van hul eie wet vind my onbehoorlik, en ek het aan ambassadeur Volker aanbeveel dat ons' duidelik moet bly '. Om die regsaspekte van die vraag uit te vind, het ek hom egter die naam gegee van 'n adjunk -assistent -prokureur -generaal, wat ek gedink het die regte kontakpunt sou wees om 'n Amerikaanse verwysing vir 'n buitelandse ondersoek te soek.

Teen die middel van Augustus, omdat ek meer as 'n maand lank die veiligheidshulp gehou het sonder om te begryp, het ek begin vrees dat die langdurige Amerikaanse beleid van sterk steun aan die Oekraïne verander. Ek het berader Brechbuhl gebel om dit op 21 Augustus te bespreek. Hy het gesê dat hy nie bewus was van 'n verandering in die Amerikaanse beleid nie, maar dat hy die status van die veiligheidshulp sou nagaan. My kommer het die volgende dag, op 22 Augustus, verdiep tydens 'n telefoongesprek met mnr. Morrison. Ek het hom gevra of daar 'n verandering in die beleid van sterk steun aan die Oekraïne was, waarop hy geantwoord het, "dit moet nog gesien word." Hy het ook tydens hierdie oproep vir my gesê dat die "president glad nie hulp wil verleen nie." Dit was vir my uiters kommerwekkend. Soos ek in Mei aan Sekretaris Pompeo gesê het, sou ek moes bedank as die beleid van sterk steun aan die Oekraïne verander. Op grond van my oproep met mnr. Morrison was ek besig om dit voor te berei.

Net dae later, op 27 Augustus, het ambassadeur Bolton in Kiev aangekom en met president Zelenskyy vergader. Tydens hul ontmoeting is veiligheidshulp nie bespreek nie - ongelooflik dat nuus van die houvas eers op 29 Augustus uitgelek het. Teen die einde van die besoek van ambassadeur Bolton het ek gevra om hom privaat te ontmoet, waartydens ek my ernstige kommer uitgespreek het oor die weerhouding van militêre hulp aan die Oekraïne terwyl die Oekraïners hul land teen Russiese aggressie verdedig. Ambassadeur Bolton het aanbeveel dat ek 'n eerste persoonskabel stuur

Sekretaris Pompeo, wat my kommer direk oordra. Ek het op 29 Augustus so 'n kabel geskryf en oorgedra, waarin ek die 'dwaasheid' beskryf het wat ek gesien het in die terughouding van militêre hulp aan die Oekraïne in 'n tyd toe vyandighede nog in die ooste bedrywig was en toe Rusland fyn dopgehou het om die vlak van Amerikaanse steun vir die Oekraïense regering. Ek het aan die Sekretaris gesê dat ek nie so 'n beleid kan en sal verdedig nie. Alhoewel ek geen spesifieke reaksie gekry het nie, het ek gehoor dat die sekretaris kort daarna die kabel saamgeneem het na 'n vergadering in die Withuis wat fokus op veiligheidshulp aan die Oekraïne.

Dieselfde dag dat ek my kabel na die sekretaris gestuur het, 29 Augustus, het mnr. Yermak my gekontak en was baie bekommerd oor die teruggehoue ​​veiligheidshulp. Die houvas wat die Withuis op die hulp geplaas het, is pas daardie dag in 'n Politico -verhaal bekend gemaak. Op daardie stadium was ek verleë dat ek hom geen verduideliking kon gee waarom dit weerhou is nie.

Dit het nog steeds nie by my opgekom dat die houvas op veiligheidshulp verband hou met die 'ondersoeke' nie. Dit sou egter binnekort verander.

Op 1 September, net drie dae na my kabel na sekretaris Pompeo, ontmoet president Zelenskyy vise -president Pence tydens 'n bilaterale vergadering in Warskou. President Trump het beplan om na Warskou te reis, maar het op die laaste oomblik gekanselleer weens die orkaan Dorian. Slegs ure voor die Pence-Zelenskyy-vergadering het ek met Danyliuk gekontak om hom te laat weet dat die vertraging van die Amerikaanse veiligheidshulp 'n alles-of-niks-voorstel is, in die sin dat as die Withuis nie die houvas opneem voor die aan die einde van die boekjaar (30 September), sou die fondse verstryk en die Oekraïne niks ontvang nie. Ek was vol vertroue dat die Withuis tydens die bilaterale vergadering of kort daarna die houvas sou opneem, maar dit was nie die geval nie. Ek het inderdaad telefonies 'n voorlesing ontvang van die Pence-Zelenskyy-vergadering van mnr. Morrison, waartydens hy my vertel het dat president Zelenskyy die vergadering geopen het deur die vise-president te vra oor veiligheidsamewerking. Die vise -president het nie substantief gereageer nie, maar het gesê dat hy die aand met president Trump sou praat. Die vise -president het wel gesê dat president Trump wou hê dat die Europeërs meer moet doen om Oekraïne te ondersteun en dat hy wil hê dat die Oekraïners meer moet doen om korrupsie te beveg.

Tydens dieselfde oproep wat ek met mnr. Morrison gehad het, het hy 'n gesprek beskryf wat ambassadeur Sondland met mnr Yermak in Warskou gehad het. Ambassadeur Sondland het aan mnr. Yermak gesê dat geld vir veiligheidshulp eers sal kom voordat president Zelensky toegewy is om die Burisma -ondersoek voort te sit. Ek was ontsteld oor wat mnr. Morrison my vertel het oor die Sondland-Yermak-gesprek. Dit was die eerste keer dat ek hoor dat die veiligheidshulp - nie net die Withuis -vergadering nie - op die ondersoeke gekondisioneer is.

Baie bekommerd, op dieselfde dag stuur ek 'n sms aan ambassadeur Sondland met die vraag of 'ons nou sê dat veiligheidshulp en ['n] WH -vergadering op ondersoek ingestel is?' Ambassadeur Sondland het geantwoord dat ek hom moes bel, wat ek ook gedoen het. Tydens die telefoonoproep het ambassadeur Sondland vir my gesê dat president Trump vir hom gesê het dat hy wil hê dat president Zelenskyy in die openbaar moet verklaar dat Oekraïne Burisma en beweerde Oekraïense inmenging in die Amerikaanse verkiesing in 2016 sal ondersoek.

Ambassadeur Sondland het my ook vertel dat hy nou erken dat hy 'n fout gemaak het deur vroeër aan die Oekraïense amptenare met wie hy gepraat het, te vertel dat 'n vergadering in die Withuis met president Zelensky afhanklik was van 'n openbare aankondiging van ondersoeke - trouens, ambassadeur Sondland het gesê: ' alles ”was afhanklik van so 'n aankondiging, insluitend veiligheidshulp. Hy het gesê dat president Trump president Zelenskyy 'in 'n openbare boks' wou hê deur 'n openbare verklaring af te lê oor die bevel van sulke ondersoeke.

In dieselfde oproep van 1 September het ek aan ambassadeur Sondland gesê dat president Trump meer respek vir 'n ander staatshoof moet hê en dat wat hy beskryf nie in die belang van president Trump of president Zelensky is nie. Op daardie stadium het ek ambassadeur Sondland gevra om terug te keer op president Trump se eis. Ambassadeur Sondland het belowe om te probeer. Ons het ook die moontlikheid bespreek dat die Oekraïense Aanklaer -generaal, eerder as president Zelenskyy, 'n verklaring sal aflê oor ondersoeke, moontlik in samewerking met die ondersoek van Prokureur -generaal Barr na die ondersoek na inmenging in die 2016 -verkiesing.

Die volgende dag, 2 September, het mnr. Morrison gebel om my in kennis te stel dat Danyliuk hom gevra het om na sy hotelkamer in Warskou te kom, waar Danyliuk kommer uitgespreek het oor die moontlike verlies van Amerikaanse steun aan die Oekraïne. Mnr. Morrison het my veral vertel dat die onvermoë van enige Amerikaanse amptenaar om op die Oekraïners se uitdruklike vrae oor veiligheidshulp te reageer, hulle pla. Ek ondervind dieselfde spanning in my omgang met die Oekraïners, onder meer tydens 'n ontmoeting wat ek die dag met die Oekraïense minister van verdediging, Andriy Zagordnyuk, gehad het.

Tydens my oproep met mnr. Morrison op 2 September, het ek mnr. Morrison ook ingelig oor wat ambassadeur Sondland my die vorige dag tydens ons oproep gesê het.

Op 5 September was ek gasheer vir senatore Johnson en Murphy vir 'n besoek aan Kiev. Tydens hul besoek ontmoet ons president Zelensky. Sy eerste vraag aan die senatore was oor die teruggehoue ​​veiligheidshulp. My herinnering aan die vergadering is dat albei senatore beklemtoon het dat tweeledige steun aan die Oekraïne in Washington die belangrikste strategiese bate van die Oekraïne is en dat president Zelenskyy nie die tweeledige steun in die gedrang moet bring deur by die Amerikaanse binnelandse politiek betrokke te raak nie.

Ek het al my amptelike kontakte in Oekraïne hierdie punt genoem (en bly aanhou). Maar die poging om president Zelensky in die openbaar te verbind tot ondersoeke na Burisma en beweerde inmenging in die 2016 -verkiesing, het getoon hoe die amptelike buitelandse beleid van die Verenigde State onderbreek is deur die onreëlmatige pogings van mnr. Giuliani.

Twee dae later, op 7 September, het ek 'n gesprek met mnr. Morrison gehad waarin hy vroeër die dag 'n telefoongesprek tussen ambassadeur Sondland en president Trump beskryf het. Morrison het gesê dat hy 'n 'sinkende gevoel' het nadat hy van ambassadeur Sondland oor hierdie gesprek geleer het. Volgens mnr. Morrison het president Trump aan ambassadeur Sondland gesê dat hy nie 'n 'quid pro quo' vra nie. Maar president Trump het wel daarop aangedring dat president Zelenskyy na 'n mikrofoon gaan en sê dat hy ondersoek instel na die inmenging van Biden en die verkiesing van 2016, en dat president Zelenskyy dit self sou wou doen. Morrison het gesê dat hy ambassadeur Bolton en die NSS -advokate vertel het van hierdie telefoonoproep tussen president Trump en ambassadeur Sondland.

Die volgende dag, op 8 September, het ek en ambassadeur Sondland telefonies gesels. Hy het gesê dat hy met president Trump gepraat het soos ek 'n week vroeër voorgestel het, maar dat president Trump vasberade was dat president Zelensky self 'dinge moet opklaar en dit in die openbaar moet doen'. President Trump het gesê dit is nie 'n 'quid pro quo' nie. Ambassadeur Sondland het gesê dat hy met president Zelenskyy en mnr Yermak gepraat het en vir hulle gesê dat, hoewel dit nie 'n quid pro quo was nie, as president Zelenskyy nie in die openbaar 'dinge sou opklaar' nie, ons 'n 'dooiepunt' sou wees. Ek het verstaan ​​dat 'n 'dooiepunt' beteken dat die Oekraïne nie die broodnodige militêre hulp sou ontvang nie. Ambassadeur Sondland het gesê dat hierdie gesprek met president Zelenskyy ingestem is om in 'n onderhoud met CNN 'n openbare verklaring af te lê.

Na die oproep met ambassadeur Sondland op 8 September, het ek my sterk bedenkinge uitgespreek in 'n sms -boodskap aan ambassadeur Sondland, waarin gesê word dat my "nagmerrie is dat hulle [die Oekraïners] die onderhoud gee en nie veiligheidshulp kry nie. Die Russe is mal daaroor. (En ek het opgehou.). Ek was ernstig.

Die volgende dag het ek aan ambassadeurs Sondland en Volker gesê dat die boodskap aan die Oekraïners (en die Russe) wat ons stuur met die besluit oor veiligheidshulp, die belangrikste is. With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us.” I also said, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Ambassador Sondland responded about five hours later that I was “incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”

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.

Finally, I learned on September 11 that the hold had been lifted and that the security assistance would be provided.

After I learned that the security assistance was released on September 11, I personally conveyed the news to President Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Prystaiko. And I again reminded Mr. Yermak of the high strategic value of bipartisan support for Ukraine and the importance of not getting involved in other countries’ elections. My fear at the time was that since Ambassador Sondland had told me President Zelenskyy already agreed to do a CNN interview, President Zelenskyy would make a statement regarding “investigations” that would have played into domestic U.S. politics. I sought to confirm through Mr. Danyliuk that President Zelenskyy was not planning to give such an interview to the media. While Mr. Danyliuk initially confirmed that on September 12, I noticed during a meeting on the morning of September 13 at President Zelenskyy’s office that Mr. Yermak looked uncomfortable in response to the question. Again, I asked Mr. Danyliuk to confirm that there would be no CNN interview, which he did.

On September 25 at the UN General Assembly session in New York City, President Trump met President Zelenskyy face-to-face. He also released the transcript of the July 25 call. The United States gave the Ukrainians virtually no notice of the release, and they were livid. Although this was the first time I had seen the details of President Trump’s July 25 call with President Zelenskyy, in which he mentioned Vice President Biden, I had come to understand well before then that “investigations” was a term that Ambassadors Volker and Sondland used to mean matters related to the 2016 elections, and to investigations of Burisma and the Bidens.

* * * * *

I recognize that this is a rather lengthy recitation of the events of the past few months told from my vantage point in Kyiv. But I also recognize the importance of the matters your Committees are investigating, and I hope that this chronology will provide some framework for your questions.

I wish to conclude by returning to the points I made at the outset. Ukraine is important to the security of the United States. It has been attacked by Russia, which continues its aggression against Ukraine. If we believe in the principle of sovereignty of nations on which our security and the security of our friends and allies depends, we must support Ukraine in its fight against its bullying neighbor. Russian aggression cannot stand.

There are two Ukraine stories today. The first is the one we are discussing this morning and that you have been hearing for the past two weeks. It is a rancorous story about whistleblowers, Mr. Giuliani, side channels, quid pro quos, corruption, and interference in elections. In this story Ukraine is an object.

But there is another Ukraine story — a positive, bipartisan one. In this second story, Ukraine is the subject. This one is about young people in a young nation, struggling to break free of its past, hopeful that their new government will finally usher in a new Ukraine, proud of its independence from Russia, eager to join Western institutions and enjoy a more secure and prosperous life. This story describes a nation developing an inclusive, democratic nationalism, not unlike what we in America, in our best moments, feel about our diverse country — less concerned about what language we speak, what religion if any we practice, where our parents and grandparents came from; more concerned about building a new country.

Because of the strategic importance of Ukraine in our effort to create a whole, free Europe, we, through Republican and Democratic administrations over three decades, have supported Ukraine. Congress has been generous over the years with assistance funding, both civilian and military, and political support. With overwhelming bipartisan majorities, Congress has supported Ukraine with harsh sanctions on Russia for invading and occupying Ukraine. We can be proud of that support and that we have stood up to a dictator’s aggression against a democratic neighbor.

It is this second story that I would like to leave you with today.

And I am glad to answer your questions.


Top diplomat Bill Taylor reveals new details at impeachment hearing &mdash read his opening statement

In his opening statement in the first public hearings of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Ambassador Bill Taylor told lawmakers that he recently learned a member of his staff had overheard President Trump asking about "the investigations" the day after his July 25 call with the president of Ukraine. Here's how he described it:

Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26. While Ambassador Volker and I visited the front, this member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland. Ambassador Sondland met with Mr. Yermak.

Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about "the investigations." Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.

The staffer who overheard the conversation is David Holmes, a political officer in the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, three sources familiar with the matter told CBS News. Holmes is now expected to appear for a closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill on Friday. Taylor went on to say that after the call, the staffer spoke with Sondland about Mr. Trump's thoughts on Ukraine:

Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for. At the time I gave my deposition on October 22, I was not aware of this information. I am including it here for completeness. As the Committee knows, I reported this information through counsel to the State Department's Legal Adviser, as well as to counsel for both the Majority and the Minority on the Committee. It is my understanding that the Committee is following up on this matter.


Taylor says he was planning to resign if Ukraine aid not released

Bill Taylor said in his opening statement to the House committees investigating impeachment that he was preparing to resign in August over the delaying of military aid to Ukraine.

The acting US ambassador to Ukraine said that he had a conversation on August 22 with Tim Morrison of the National Security Council. Morrison indicated during the phone call that Trump was opposed to authorizing any military aid to Ukraine.

Taylor said: “As I had told Secretary [Mike] Pompeo in May, if the policy of strong support for Ukraine were to change, I would have to resign. Based on my call with Mr. Morrison, I was preparing to do so.”

In his opening statement to the House committees investigating impeachment, Bill Taylor said he was told by an official at the National Security Council that Trump had insisted the Ukrainian president himself publicly announce a probe into Joe Biden and his son.

The acting US ambassador to Ukraine said: “President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself.”

However, Taylor said that Trump had told Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, he was not seeking a “quid pro quo,” even as military aid to Ukraine hung in the balance.

At the risk of stating the obvious: if Trump demanded that the Ukrainian president make public announcements of investigations into Demokrate before he would authorize the release of military aid, then his actions were the very definition of a quid pro quo.


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. Read six takeaways from Mr. Taylor’s testimony.

Opening Statement of Ambassador William B. Taylor – October 22, 2019

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to appear today to provide my perspective on the events that are the subject of the Committees’ inquiry. My sole purpose is to provide the Committees with my views about the strategic importance of Ukraine to the United States as well as additional information about the incidents in question.

I have dedicated my life to serving U.S. interests at home and abroad in both military and civilian roles. My background and experience are nonpartisan and I have been honored to serve under every administration, Republican and Democratic, since 1985.

For 50 years, I have served the country, starting as a cadet at West Point, then as an infantry officer for six years, including with the 101 st Airborne Division in Vietnam then at the Department of Energy then as a member of a Senate staff then at NATO then with the State Department here and abroad — in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jerusalem, and Ukraine and more recently, as Executive Vice President of the nonpartisan United States Institute of Peace.

While I have served in many places and in different capacities, I have a particular interest in and respect for the importance of our country’s relationship with Ukraine. Our national security demands that this relationship remain strong, However, in August and September of this year, I became increasingly concerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making and by the withholding of vital security assistance for domestic political reasons. I hope my remarks today will help the Committees understand why I believed that to be the case.

At the outset, I would like to convey several key points. First, Ukraine is a strategic partner of the United States, important for the security of our country as well as Europe. Second, Ukraine is, right at this moment — while we sit in this room — and for the last five years, under armed attack from Russia. Third, the security assistance we provide is crucial to Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression, and, more importantly, sends a signal to Ukrainians — and Russians — that we are Ukraine’s reliable strategic partner. And finally, as the Committees are now aware, 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 𠇌razy.” I believed that then, and I still believe that.

Let me now provide the Committees a chronology of the events that led to my concern.

On May 28 of this year, I met with Secretary Mike Pompeo who asked me to return to Kyiv to lead our embassy in Ukraine. It was — and is — a critical time in U.S.-Ukraine relations: Volodymyr Zelenskyy had just been elected president and Ukraine remained at war with Russia. As the summer approached, a new Ukrainian government would be seated, parliamentary elections were imminent, and the Ukrainian political trajectory would be set for the next several years.

I had served as Ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, having been nominated by George W. Bush, and, in the intervening 10 years, I have stayed engaged with Ukraine, visiting frequently since 2013 as a board member of a small Ukrainian non-governmental organization supporting good governance and reform. Across the responsibilities I have had in public service, Ukraine is special for me, and Secretary Pompeo’s offer to return as Chief of Mission was compelling. I am convinced of the profound importance of Ukraine to the security of the United States and Europe for two related reasons:

First, if Ukraine succeeds in breaking free of Russian influence, it is possible for Europe to be whole, free, democratic, and at peace. In contrast, if Russia dominates Ukraine, Russia will again become an empire, oppressing its people, and threatening its neighbors and the rest of the world.

Second, with the annexation of the Crimea in 2014 and the continued aggression in Donbas, Russia violated countless treaties, ignored all commitments, and dismissed all the principles that have kept the peace and contributed to prosperity in Europe since World War II. To restore Ukraine’s independence, Russia must leave Ukraine. This has been and should continue to be a bipartisan U.S. foreign policy goal.

When I was serving outside of government during the Obama adıninistration and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, I joined two other former ambassadors to Ukraine in urging Obama administration officials at the State Department, Defense Department, and other agencies to provide lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine in order to deter further Russian aggression. I also supported much stronger sanctions against Russia.

All to say, I cared about Ukraine’s future and the important U.S. interests there. So, when Secretary Pompeo asked me to go back to Kyiv, I wanted to say “yes.”

But it was not an easy decision. The former Ambassador, Masha Yovanovitch, had been treated poorly, caught in a web of political machinations both in Kyiv and in Washington. I feared that those problems were still present. When I talked to her about accepting the offer, however, she urged me to go, both for policy reasons and for the morale of the embassy.

Before answering the Secretary, I consulted both my wife and a respected former senior Republican official who has been a mentor to me. I will tell you that my wife, in no uncertain terms, strongly opposed the idea. The mentor counseled: if your country asks you to do something, you do it — if you can be effective.

I could be effective only if the U.S. policy of strong support for Ukraine — strong diplomatic support along with robust security, economic, and technical assistance — were to continue and if I had the backing of the Secretary of State to implement that policy. I worried about what I had heard concerning the role of Rudolph Giuliani, who had made several high-profile statements about Ukraine and U.S. policy toward the country. So during my meeting with Secretary Pompeo on May 28, I made clear to him and the others present that if U.S. policy toward Ukraine changed, he would not want me posted there and I could not stay. He assured me that the policy of strong support for Ukraine would continue and that he would support me in defending that policy.

With that understanding, I agreed to go back to Kyiv. Because I was appointed by the Secretary but not reconfirmed by the Senate, my official position was Chargé d�ires ad interim.

I returned to Kyiv on June 17, carrying the original copy of a letter President Trump signed the day after I met with the Secretary. In that letter, President Trump congratulated President Zelenskyy on his election victory and invited him to a meeting in the Oval Office. I also brought with me a framed copy of the Secretary’s declaration that the United States would never recognize the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea.

But once I arrived in Kyiv, I discovered a weird combination of encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances.


Trump thanks Republicans after GOP lawmakers stormed secure impeachment hearing

"There were audible sighs and 'ughs' (during Taylor's deposition) when that process was described," according to the source.

Download the NBC News app for the latest news on the impeachment inquiry

One member of Congress who was in the room, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said the moment made the connection clear between the withholding of aid and Trump's demand that Ukraine conduct an investigation that could implicate his political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

"He drew a very direct line in a series of events he described as being President Trump's decision to withhold funds and refuse a meeting with Zelenskiy," Wasserman Schultz said, "unless there was a public pronouncement by him of investigations of Burisma."

Burisma is the Ukrainian energy firm for which Biden's son Hunter served as a board member.

Last week, the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, acknowledged during a news conference that the aid was held up as part of a quid pro quo, although he later insisted his words had been misreported by the press.

In a July phone call with Zelenskiy, Trump asked him for a "favor" and then asked for help in investigating both the origins of the investigation into 2016 Russian election interference, as well as an energy company tied to Hunter Biden.

Taylor could be a linchpin of any impeachment case against Trump and that sentiment was realized when he delivered his opening statement to the committee on Tuesday. The gravity of the moment and the realization of what is at stake in the impeachment probe was palpable in the room, according to multiple sources who were in attendance.

At one point, "one prominent (Republican) member who will go nameless turned to an aide and said, 'This isn't good,'" a person in the room said.


It's Not The Deep State That Threatens Trump. It's The State.

S ince he took office, President Donald Trump has frequently claimed a &ldquodeep state&rdquo is trying to sabotage his presidency, denouncing a supposed corrupt conspiracy in the U.S. government that he says is working in the shadows to undermine him. But ultimately, Articles of Impeachment against Trump may be drafted on the testimony of career bureaucrats, relying on routine skills built over decades of public service. It&rsquos their credibility, expertise, and meticulous records that may prove the most damaging to a president who has long disparaged such discipline.

That dynamic was on display again on Tuesday, when the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine defied the Trump administration&rsquos orders and testified before the three congressional committees leading the impeachment probe. Charge d&rsquoaffaires Bill Taylor&rsquos testimony made “the most compelling case yet” that the White House had withheld military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponents, a person who was present for his deposition told TIME.

Lawmakers coming out of the almost ten-hour hearing said that Taylor filled in the picture drawn by other career officials, including former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and Trump&rsquos former top White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill. Taken together, the bureaucrats have provided damning context to what Trump meant when he told Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, &ldquoI would like you to do us a favor.&rdquo

Testifying behind closed doors, Taylor tied the president directly to efforts to make military aid to Ukraine contingent on the probes Trump sought for his own political gain. Taylor said he was told that Trump would withhold the aid until the country&rsquos leaders publicly announced investigations into Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and into unsubstantiated allegations of Ukrainian collusion with Democrats in the 2016 election, according to a copy of his 15-page opening statement obtained by TIME. Taylor called it &ldquocrazy&rdquo and &ldquoweird,&rdquo and described in detail his impression of the &ldquoirregular, informal channels&rdquo used by Trump&rsquos personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Taylor, who is still employed by the State Department, used extensive personal notes but did not share them with the committees. As a career foreign service officer and former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, noted on Twitter, keeping careful records is second nature to diplomats &ldquobecause we worried foreign interlocutors might misrepresent conversations.&rdquo Taylor’s previous experience as ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009 added to his credibility.

Not all the witnesses who have come before the committee have engendered respect from Democrats. Taylor&rsquos low-key style contrasted with Trump appointees with little to no experience, like E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, whose testimony he seemed to contradict. In his opening statement, Taylor said that Sondland &ldquotried 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.&rdquo Taylor told lawmakers that argument &ldquomade no sense,&rdquo because the Ukrainians did not &ldquoowe&rdquo Trump anything and holding up the aid was against U.S. national security interests.

Where Sondland frequently said he couldn’t remember much of his work in Ukraine, Taylor recalled events with clarity. &ldquoThere were many things that Ambassador Sondland didn&rsquot remember that Ambassador Taylor remembered in excruciating detail,&rdquo Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz agreed. &ldquoIt was less about protecting himself and more about just a lifelong habit so he could recall with accuracy his career,&rdquo Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, said.

By early afternoon, it was clear that Tuesday&rsquos testimony was &ldquoturning out to be more important than some of us expected,” a person who was present for his deposition told TIME. Taylor was not only supporting what other witnesses had said, but also laying out how the administration, at the president’s direction, used military aid to Ukraine that Congress had approved as leverage to extract a partisan political favor “relative not only to 2016, but more important to 2020,&rdquo they said.

Although Taylor and other witnesses have worked for both Republican and Democratic administrations, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham condemned their testimony as &ldquoa coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution.&rdquo

But other normally vocal defenders of the president were notably low-key when approached by reporters about Taylor&rsquos testimony. Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the oversight committee, said the diplomat&rsquos answers helped the President but declined to say how.


Read the Full Transcript

Judy Woodruff:

The congressional impeachment inquiry now has critical new evidence tying President Trump to possible abuse of power. It came today from the man running the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.

White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage.

Yamiche Alcindor:

A new day, a new startling witness in the growing impeachment inquiry. This time, it was acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor.

Taylor delivered a 15-page opening statement that stunned the room. Taylor said Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, had been told by President Trump &mdash quote &mdash "that he wasn't asking for a quid pro quo, but President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference."

Freshman Democrat Andy Levin of Michigan called Taylor's testimony disturbing.

Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich.:

All I have to say is that, in my 10 short months in Congress, it's not even noon, right, and this is the &mdash my most disturbing day in Congress.

Yamiche Alcindor:

Taylor had been ambassador to Ukraine a decade ago. He agreed to fill in again in June, after Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was abruptly removed.

In text messages to Sondland, Taylor voiced his concerns. He called it &mdash quote &mdash "crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." Sondland then replied: "The president has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo's of any kind" and &mdash quote &mdash "I suggest we stop the back and forth by text."

Today, House Democrats said those messages and Taylor's deposition are central to their impeachment inquiry. Meanwhile, there was bipartisan backlash to President Trump comparing impeachment to lynching.

Early today, President Trump tweeted that &mdash quote &mdash "All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here, a lynching."

The blowback came quickly. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn:

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.:

Well, I think to have the president classify a constitutional remedy to an unlawful, egregious act such as lynching is beneath the dignity of the office of president of the United States.

Yamiche Alcindor:

Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, also spoke out.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.:

There is no question that the impeachment process is the closest thing of a political death row trial, so I get his absolute rejection of the process. I wouldn't use the word lynching.

Yamiche Alcindor:

GOP leaders like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell distanced themselves from the president's language.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

Given the history in our country, I wouldn't compare this to a lynching.

Yamiche Alcindor:

But South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of President Trump, defended him.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.:

This is a lynching in every sense. This is un-American.

Yamiche Alcindor:

And White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said this:

Hogan Gidley:

He's not comparing himself to those dark times. Whether you're white, black, brown, red, it doesn't matter. His policies have lifted all the boats in this country, and that is the story.

Yamiche Alcindor:

All this comes as reports suggest Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungary's far-right leader Viktor Orban negatively influenced President Trump's view of Ukraine. Both countries view Ukraine as hostile to their own interests.

Judy Woodruff:

And Yamiche joins me now, even as this story continues to develop.

So, Yamiche, it's pretty clear that Ambassador Taylor, what he had to say startled lawmakers in what he had to say about the administration, in exchange for information about what happened in 2016 and going forward about Joe Biden, that the ambassador was saying the administration clearly withheld military aid.

But what more did we learn about what he had to say today?

Yamiche Alcindor:

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, came to Capitol Hill and delivered stunning testimony.

I spoke to several people who were in the room, and they told me that there were audible gasps and that people were really sighing and really surprised by the fact that Bill Taylor was laying out what he believes was a pressure campaign by President Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to really pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats for his own political gain.

I want to walk through some of that 15-page opening statement, because it was really stunning, even as Bill Taylor spoke for hours.

So, some of the things he said was, Ambassador Sondland &mdash now, he is the E.U. ambassador &mdash the ambassador to the European Union &mdash said that he had talked to President Zelensky and Mr. Yermak &mdash now, that's a top aide to President Zelensky &mdash and told them that although there wasn't a quid pro quo, if President Zelensky didn't clear things up in public, we would be at a &mdash quote &mdash "stalemate. I understood stalemate to mean that Ukraine wouldn't receive much needed military assistance."

He went on to say that: "Everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance."

So, what you saw there was Bill Taylor really walking lawmakers through what he felt was a pressure campaign to get Ukraine to do things to benefit President Trump politically.

And it's also stunning to put in that statement that Bill Taylor said he pushed back on Ambassador Gordon Sondland and said, you know, why is President Trump doing this? It seems crazy. And Gordon Sondland told him, well, President Trump is a businessman, and that he feels as though he needs to get what's owed to him before he signs.

And Bill Taylor essentially said, well, President Trump isn't really owed anything from Ukraine. And Gordon Sondland basically doubled down and said the president needed to get what he wanted to get before this military aid would go to Ukraine.

Judy Woodruff:

So, Yamiche, given that, how does this fit &mdash how did &mdash what Ambassador Taylor had to say, how does this fit into the overall impeachment inquiry at this point?

Yamiche Alcindor:

Democrats say that Bill Taylor is now a central part of the impeachment inquiry.

They say that his testimony is really evidence that President Trump was engaged in this quid pro quo. Now, a number of lawmakers came out praising Bill Taylor for his words.

I want to also, though, explain that Bill Taylor talked specifically about the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Here's what he said.

He said his involvement &mdash quote &mdash "shows how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Mr. Giuliani."

So, essentially, he's saying Mr. Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, his work was intertwined, and that that was troubling to him.

That dovetails and really goes in with what all the other people have been saying to lawmakers that they have come to Capitol Hill. The ambassador to Ukraine, the former ambassador to Ukraine, that was removed said the same thing.

And really what we're seeing is a clearer and clearer picture of the fact that Rudy Giuliani was doing the president's bidding. But there are lawmakers that say that this is really just the beginning of this and that Bill Taylor is going to be possibly leading to Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, being called back to Congress.

They're also saying that his testimony might accelerate the impeachment inquiry. So we are going to have to really see how these developments continue, as Bill Taylor might just be the beginning of other people being called back to Congress.

Judy Woodruff:

And, separately, Yamiche, you did refer and you were reporting on the reaction to the president comparing this inquiry to a lynching.

We heard what some members of Congress have had to say today about that. But I know you have been talking to the White House.

How does this &mdash what does this say about how they view this impeachment inquiry and how they're dealing with it?

Yamiche Alcindor:

President Trump understands what a lynching is.

And he rally was trying the use the strongest language that he felt possible to explain the fact that he feels as though he's being wronged by this impeachment inquiry.

The White House is saying that he didn't mean to compare himself to the mass murder of African-Americans, which is what lynching refers to. But, that said, there are a lot of people, including members of the president's own party, who are really up in arms with his use of the language of lynching.

And we should remain &mdash or we should explain to people that lynching is something that happened between 1882 and 1958, according to the NAACP, and about 4,700 Americans were lynched, and the vast majority of them were African-Americans.

So there are people who are still alive whose family members were lynched who were killed just because they were African-American. So, this is really painful history that President Trump was talking about.

But, that being said, there are Democrats who are really saying that this is more of the same from President Trump, that he's been someone who has been using, they consider, racist language and other things that have really been making race relations in this country harder and harder and the divisions deeper.

But there are Republicans who say that the president should feel wronged because they feel as though the impeachment inquiry is unfair.

Judy Woodruff:

So interesting to hear the different reactions from the two Republican U.S. senators from South Carolina, Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, to the president's comments.

Yamiche Alcindor, reporting for us from the Capitol today, thank you, Yamiche.


'Incredibly damaging to the president': Ambassador William Taylor's opening statement leaves representatives gasping and shaken

The testimony of William Taylor, who has been acting as head of the diplomatic mission to Ukraine since Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was removed on the basis of conspiracy theories pushed by Rudy Giuliani, has been considered one of the most critical moments for the impeachment inquiry. It wasn’t until Tuesday morning that it became known that the State Department was trying to prevent Taylor from appearing, but, as with Yovanovitch, a last-minute subpoena was issued, and Taylor has appeared. Early reports from the closed-door hearing indicate that Taylor has not disappointed. His 15-page opening statement (not yet available) has reportedly generated “sighs and gasps” within the chamber.

    described Taylor’s testimony as “incredibly damaging to the president.” This was also based on the opening statement in advance of the question-and-answer period.
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz emerged from the chamber following the opening statements to say, “I do not know how you would listen to today's testimony by the ambassador, Ambassador Taylor, and draw any other conclusion, except that the President abused his power.”
  • Rep. Andy Levin emerged at a break to say, "This is my most disturbing day in Congress so far, very troubling."
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell, speaking on CNN, stated, “The arrows continue to point in one direction,” supporting the original whistleblower complaint.
  • The reason for “sighs and gasps” in the hearing is reported to be simply the extent of the efforts to “tie an investigation of Burisma and 2016 election” to military aid.

In texts exchanged with other members of Trump’s European team, Taylor expressed concerns about Ukraine being “used as an instrument” for the 2020 election, and said, “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” If Taylor hasn’t already been asked about the phone conversations he had before and after that text message … he will be.


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.

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.


WASHINGTON — The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, told members of Congress Tuesday that President Donald Trump directed officials to tie foreign aid to Ukraine to demands that the country open an investigation into the Biden family and the 2016 election, a potentially serious blow to Trump's repeated denials of a quid pro quo.

According to a copy of his opening statement provided to NBC News, Taylor said that E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland told him that while Trump was not requesting a "quid pro quo," he insisted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy publicly announce investigations into the Bidens and matters relating to the 2016 presidential election.

Members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees questioned Taylor about conversations he had with other American diplomats about the Trump administration's policy toward Ukraine.

Taylor told the committees that "it was becoming clear" to Taylor as early as July that nearly $400 million of military aid was being withheld on the condition that Zelenskiy commit to investigating the Burisma energy company as well as a conspiracy theory about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

Taylor said that Sondland told him in September that "everything," meaning military aid and a meeting with Trump in Washington, was dependent on Zelenskiy making a public statement committing to order the investigations.

Sondland "said that President Trump wanted President Zelenskiy in 'a public box' by making a public statement about ordering such investigations," Taylor testified.

Taylor said his concerns grew throughout the summer. He said he raised concerns to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and considered resigning. He also raised objections to officials at the National Security Counsel at the White House, Taylor testified.

In his 15-page opening statement, Taylor also charged that much of the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine circumvented normal diplomatic channels. Taylor said that when he took over the position, "I found a confusing and unusual arrangement for making U.S. policy towards Ukraine. There appeared to be two channels of U.S. policy-making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular."

"The push to make President Zelenskiy publicly commit to investigations of Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by [Trump's personal lawyer Rudy] Giuliani," Taylor added later.

Democrats emerging from the day-long deposition Tuesday, which began at 9:30 a.m. and lasted more than nine hours, said that Taylor’s testimony offered a "disturbing" portrayal of Trump's Ukraine dealings. Members described Taylor's testimony as crucial, saying that he not only filled in many of the holes created by previous testimony and depositions but also drew a "direct line" between the president's demand for an investigation by the Ukrainians into his political rivals and U.S. military aid.

In his testimony Taylor said he was told that the president insisted there was no quid pro quo, but Taylor painted a picture of a series of events that would be defined as such.

"I do not know how you would listen to today's testimony by the ambassador, Ambassador Taylor, and draw any other conclusion, except that the president abused his power and withheld foreign aid," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. "It's a direct line."

Speaking to reporters after hearing Taylor’s testimony, Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, called the diplomat’s remarks "shocking" and said "it was so clear that this was what was going to be required for foreign assistance which is just so egregious."

Two Democrats also said that Taylor took "meticulous" personal notes but those have not yet been handed over to the committee.

After departing the closed-door deposition a few hours in, freshman Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., told reporters that it was his "most disturbing day in the Congress so far . very troubling."

Republicans said little, or played down Taylor’s testimony. "Nothing new here," Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina said.

"President Trump has done nothing wrong — this is a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution," said White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham. "There was no quid pro quo. Today was just more triple hearsay and selective leaks from the Democrats’ politically motivated, closed-door, secretive hearings."