World Diplomat provides House with 'disturbing' account on Ukraine
Bolton Objected to Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Calling Giuliani ‘a Hand Grenade’
The effort to pressure Ukraine for political help provoked a heated confrontation inside the White House last summer that so alarmed John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, that he told an aide to alert White House lawyers, House investigators were told on Monday. Mr. Bolton got into a sharp exchange on July 10 with Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union, who was working with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to testimony provided to the investigators.
Former U.S. Ambassador William Taylor, a diplomat who has sharply questioned President Donald Trump's policy on Ukraine, has provided lawmakers with a "disturbing" account of events at the centre of the impeachment probe, Democrats said Tuesday.
Lawmakers emerging after the early hours of the private deposition said Taylor had given a lengthy opening statement, with a recall of events that filled in gaps from the testimony of other witnesses. They said Taylor kept records at the time of conversations and documents.
It’s every man for himself right now on Trump and Ukraine
Several developments in recent days suggest nobody is willing to vouch for anybody else at the highest levels of the administration.But at this point, President Trump and some of his top aides would probably settle for someone willing to defend them.
"The testimony is very disturbing," said New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., used the same word. Asked why, he said, "Because it's becoming more distinct."
Taylor's appearance is among the most-watched because of a text message, released by House investigators earlier in the probe, in which he called Trump's attempt to leverage military aid to Ukraine in return for a political investigation "crazy."
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said Taylor "drew a straight line" with documents, timelines and individual conversations in his records at the hearing.
"I do not know how you would listen to today's testimony from Ambassador Taylor and come to any other (conclusion) except that the president abused his power and withheld foreign aid," she said.
Democrats' lay out case for Trump impeachment probe, more key witnesses set to appear
Democrats' lay out case for Trump impeachment probe, more key witnesses set to appearDemocrats on Monday laid out their case for the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump and pressed Republicans to stop supporting Trump by releasing a fact sheet and video they said expose Trump's efforts to secure victory in the 2020 presidential election with the assistance of Ukraine.
Lawmakers did not discuss details of what they heard in the closed-door session that was expected to continue all day, and Taylor declined to comment as he entered the deposition. He was the latest diplomat with concerns to testify. Like the others, he was subpoenaed to appear.
Rep Ami Bera, D-Calif., said Taylor, a career civil servant, had a better recall of details than Gordon Sondland, the U.S. European Union ambassador who testified last week.
Taylor was expected to discuss text messages he exchanged with two other diplomats earlier this year as Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate unsupported claims about Democratic rival Joe Biden's family and a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine's role in the 2016 election.
The diplomat was one of several intermediaries between Trump and Ukrainian officials as the president advocated for the investigations. Taylor had been chosen to run the embassy there after the administration abruptly ousted the Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
Democrats Defend Private Interviews in Impeachment Probe
House Democrats plan to move ahead with more closed-door interviews in their impeachment inquiry despite stepped-up demands from Republicans to conduct the investigation in public. The plans come at the close of a week in which a witness tied President Trump to an alleged quid pro quo regarding Ukraine aid and Republicans staged a protest over the secretive nature of the proceedings.Rep. David Cicilline (D., R.I.) said Democrats would move the investigation into a public setting “as soon as we have completed the gathering of evidence and that we are ready to make a presentation.
In a series of text messages released earlier this month by U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, Taylor appeared to be alarmed by Trump's efforts as the U.S. was also withholding military assistance to Ukraine that had already been approved by Congress.
"I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Taylor wrote in excerpts of the text messages released by the impeachment investigators.
He has stood by that observation in his private remarks to investigators, according to a person familiar with his testimony who was granted anonymity to discuss it.
Taylor's description of Trump's position is in sharp contrast to how the president has characterized it. Trump has said many times that there was no quid pro quo, though his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney contradicted that last week. Mulvaney later tried to walk back his remarks.
Army Officer Who Heard Trump’s Ukraine Call Reported Concerns
A White House national security official who is a decorated Iraq war veteran plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he heard President Trump appeal to Ukraine’s president to investigate one of his leading political rivals, a request the aide considered so damaging to American interests that he reported it to a superior. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman of the Army, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice registered internal objections about how Mr.
Taylor, a former Army officer, had been serving as executive vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace, a nonpartisan think tank founded by Congress, when he was appointed to run the embassy in Kyiv after Yovanovitch was removed before the end of her term following a campaign against her led by Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
He had served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009.
"He's the epitome of a seasoned statesman," said John Shmorhun, an American who heads the agricultural company AgroGeneration.
Before retiring from government service, Taylor was involved in diplomatic efforts surrounding several major international conflicts. He served in Jerusalem as U.S. envoy to the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers. He oversaw reconstruction in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, and from Kabul coordinated U.S. and international assistance to Afghanistan from 2002 to 2003.
He arrived in Kyiv a month after the sudden departure of Yovanovitch and the inauguration of Ukraine's new president, prepared to steer the embassy through the transition. He was most likely not prepared for what happened next.
In July, Trump would have his now-famous phone conversation with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which he pressed the new Ukrainian president to launch the investigations. Trump at the time had quietly put a hold on nearly $400 million in military aid that Ukraine was counting on in its fight against Russian-backed separatists.
Two volatile meetings at the White House have become central to the impeachment inquiry
Details of the July 10 gatherings, which John Bolton likened to an illicit “drug deal,” have emerged from witnesses’ testimony before House lawmakers.Instead, they walked into a White House that was on the verge of a crisis over Ukraine, as a simmering conflict between the president’s political impulses and the nation’s security priorities was about to erupt in the West Wing.
In the follow-up to the call, Taylor exchanged texts with two of Trump's point men on Ukraine as they were trying to get Zelenskiy to commit to the investigations before setting a date for a coveted White House visit.
In a text message to Sondland on Sept. 1, Taylor bluntly questioned Trump's motives: "Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?" Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told him to call on the phone.
In texts a week later to Sondland and special envoy Volker, Taylor expressed increased concern, calling it "crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." In a reply several hours later, Sondland defended Trump's intentions and suggested they stop the back-and-forth by text.
Taylor had also texted that not giving the military aid to Ukraine would be his "nightmare" scenario because it would send the wrong message to both Kyiv and Moscow: "The Russians love it. (And I quit)."
U.S. diplomats based at the Kyiv embassy have refused to speak with journalists, reflecting the sensitivity of the impeachment inquiry. The embassy press office did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Pictures: Trump and Ukraine: Timeline of events in the controversy
Impeachment testimony shows high-powered U.S. lobbyist's role in Ukraine scandal .
A Republican former congressman turned lobbyist repeatedly pushed for the dismissal of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, an action later taken by President Donald Trump after he was urged to do so by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a U.S. diplomat said in testimony on Wednesday. Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, Ukraine specialists at the State Department, became the latest current and former U.S. officials called as witnesses in the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry against the Republican president in the House of Representatives. require(["inlineoutstreamAd", "c.
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