The acting ambassador to Ukraine did not receive a readout of the now-infamous July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Bill Taylor made the astonishing claim on Tuesday in written testimony to the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry.
“Strangely, even though I was Chief of Mission and was scheduled to meet with President Zelenskyy along with [then-U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt] Volker the following day, I received no readout of the call from the White House,” Taylor wrote in his written testimony.
On that call, Trump pressured Zelensky to pursue investigations that could provide political dirt useful to Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. In his testimony, Taylor described new details about how that effort by Trump affected the regular course of his and others’ diplomatic work in Ukraine.
Over extensive conversations with Ukrainian officials in the days following the July 25 call, Taylor said he remained in-the-dark about what exactly had transpired.
When he met with Zelensky the next day, for example, Taylor did so without having heard the American version of what the leaders had discussed — just the “short, cryptic summary” that the Ukrainians had released publicly.
“President Zelenskyy told Ambassador Volker and me that he was happy with the call but did not elaborate,” Taylor recalled in his written testimony. “President Zelenskyy then asked about the face-to-face meeting in the Oval Office as promised in the May 29 letter from President Trump.”
Taylor wrote that he then toured the front line of Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia and was thanked for America’s security assistance to Ukraine. Taylor said it made him “uncomfortable” to know that the security assistance was on hold.
“Although I spent the morning of July 26 with President Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials, the first summary of the Trump-Zelenskyy that I heard from anybody inside the U.S. government was during a phone call I had with Tim Morrison, Dr. [Fiona] Hill’s recent replacement at the NSC, on July 28,” he wrote. “Mr. Morrison told me that the call ‘could have been better’ and that President Trump had suggested that President Zelenskyy or his staff meet with Mr. Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr.”
The anonymous whistleblower’s complaint that kicked off the impeachment inquiry flagged Trump’s July call with Zelensky and specifically noted the White House’s efforts to “lock down” records of the conversation. Taylor’s testimony indicates that records of it were restricted among high-ranking diplomats, as well.
He ultimately saw a memo of the call when the rest of America did.
“I did not see any official readout of the call until it was publicly released on September 25,” Taylor wrote, referring to the day the Trump administration made a memorandum of the call public for the world to read.