As part of their impeachment efforts, House Democrats called State Department official William Taylor two weeks ago to testify in a closed-door hearing. It didn’t go well for them.
Taylor served as the charge d’affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and transcripts of his testimony have now been released.
They show that not only was he not on President Trump’s July telephone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, he didn’t even see the readout until it was declassified.
“And this isn’t firsthand.”
“I did not see any official readout of the call until it was publicly released on September 25th,” he said.
So while Taylor claimed to have a “clear understanding” that security assistance was predicated on Zelensky investigating Joe and Hunter Biden, this understanding wasn’t based on anything he personally heard. Rather, he depended on others to relay the information.
“And this isn’t firsthand. It’s not secondhand. It’s not thirdhand,” Rep. Lee Zeldin pointed out to Taylor. “But if I understand this correctly, you’re telling us that Tim Morrison told you that Ambassador Sondland told him that the president told Ambassador Sondland that Zelensky would have to open an investigation into Biden?”
Taylor admitted that was true, and when asked whether he had “any other source that the president’s goal in making this request was anything other than The New York Times,” the official said he didn’t. What’s more, Taylor had no contact with either the president or Rudy Giuliani.
Rep. John Ratcliffe attacked the idea of a quid pro quo by noting how Ukraine’s government wasn’t even aware that a hold had been put on military aid.
“So, if nobody in the Ukrainian government is aware of a military hold at the time of the Trump-Zelensky call, then, as a matter of law and as a matter of fact, there can be no quid pro quo, based on military aid,” Ratcliffe asserted. “I just want to be real clear that, again, as of July 25th, you have no knowledge of a quid pro quo involving military aid.”
“July 25th is a week after the hold was put on the security assistance,” Taylor replied. “And July 25th, they had a conversation between the two presidents, where it was not discussed.”
“And to your knowledge,” Ratcliffe continued, “nobody in the Ukrainian government was aware of the hold?”
“That is correct,” Taylor conceded.