The acting ambassador to Ukraine dropped a bombshell Wednesday, testifying to a previously unknown conversation that President Trump had that directly implicated him in the pressure campaign against Ukraine.
The explosive new claim did not come up in Taylor’s closed-door testimony — the ambassador said he’d only heard a staffer’s account of the conversation a few days ago.
Taylor revealed that on July 26, just one day after Trump pressed Ukraine’s president to pursue politically useful investigations, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland called Trump from a restaurant after meeting with Andrey Yermak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. One of Taylor’s staffers was present at the meeting and the restaurant, and overheard the phone conversation.
The staffer told Taylor that Trump asked Sondland about the status of “the investigations,” Taylor testified in his opening statement.
“The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone,” Taylor said, “asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations.’ Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.”
Under questioning later, Taylor affirmed that he understood “the investigations” to mean the investigations Trump wanted Ukraine to announce into the 2016 U.S. elections, the Bidens and Burisma, the natural gas company on whose board Hunter Biden sat.
Taylor testified that he hadn’t heard the story until recently and was “including it here for completeness.”
Following that call, Taylor testified, his staffer asked Sondland what Trump thought about Ukraine, to which Sondland responded that Trump “cares more about the investigations of Biden.”
“I take it the import of that is he cares more about that than he does about Ukraine?” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) asked Taylor Wednesday.
“Yes sir,” Taylor said.
As House Democrats build a case for Trump’s impeachment, the alleged overheard phone call marks yet another indication that Trump was personally interested in pressing Ukraine for politically useful investigations.
Taylor gives new testimony that he learned post-his first deposition on a Trump-Sondland conversation about the sham investigation Trump wanted launched into the Bidens pic.twitter.com/CTbYmqTi49
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) November 13, 2019