House Democrats emerged from a morning of closed-door testimony from a key witness in their impeachment probe stressing the “disturbing” details the witness, career diplomat Bill Taylor put forward.
Taylor — a State Department official in the Kyiv Embassy who expressed real-time alarm to the Ukraine pressure campaign— backed up the allegations that the Trump administration pushed for the launch of investigations politically beneficial to the President, Democrats said.
Taylor took contemporaneous notes of important meeting and phone calls — a lifelong habit, according to Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) — that “made his testimony all the more credible,” Connolly said.
His testimony was “devastating to the President,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) told TPM, and “corroborates the set of events that have been the subject of this impeachment inquiry.”
Unlike other witnesses who have privately testified for the inquiry, Taylor’s opening statement did not leak in full at the start of his deposition. But members described it as lengthy — reportedly 15 pages long — and, according to Politico, it prompted gasps and sighs in the deposition room.
“It was an extensive opening statement based on his meticulous notes,” Connolly told reporters.
Some members described the testimony as “disturbing”
When asked why that word was fitting, Rep. Dean Philips (D-MN) said, “It is becoming more distinct.”
Having served in administrations of both parties, Taylor came out of retirement to work in the Kyiv embassy at the request of Kurt Volker, the Trump-appointed envoy to Ukraine who became deeply involved in the demands the Ukraine announce probes connected to the Bidens and to conspiracy theories about the 2016 election.
In a July text to Volker and Gordon Sondland, another Trump-appointed ambassador who pushed Ukraine for the probes, Taylor warned about Ukraine’s leaders feeling like the country was “merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.”
In other texts Taylor expressed concerns about withholding military aid for the country as leverage for the investigations.
“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor texted Sondland in early September.
After reportedly calling the President Sondland responded denying that there was quid pro quo. Republicans have claimed citing other closed door deposition that Taylor’s texts were prompted by public reporting about the military freeze not by any insider knowledge.
Taylor told investigators, according to report by CNN, that Sondland had expressed to him in phone conversations that the aid was being withheld in part as part of a push for the investigations.
When asked by CNN about the report Connolly declined to say anything pertaining to the substance of the depositions but would respond on the basis of the report: “Sondland now has some explaining to do.”