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Testimony by top diplomat Bill Taylor on Trump and Ukraine elicits disturbed responses from members of Congress

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Taylor was told in July that Ukraine would not receive military aid unless President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly launched an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden

“Explosive” closed-door testimony on Tuesday from William Taylor, a career diplomat who questioned the Trump administration’s attempts over the summer to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, could begin a “sea change” in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against the president, according to lawmakers who were in the room.

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Taylor gave a detailed account to the House Oversight, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs committees of the administration’s “pervasive” attempts to convince Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden, his son Hunter’s position at a Ukrainian oil company, and a debunked conspiracy theory regarding Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

“The body language of the people hearing it was ‘holy shit,’ seriously.”
—Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.)

In a July phone call with Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the E.U., in July, Taylor was told that a failure of Ukrainian President Volodymyr to publicly announce that he would launch the investigation would set off a deterioration of U.S.-Ukraine relations. Zelensky would not be invited to the White House and military aid would be withheld, Sondland said, unless he made the statement.

“Amb. Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance,'” Taylor testified to committee members on Tuesday. “He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.”

Read Taylor’s full opening statement here.

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Nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid for Ukraine was put on hold around the time of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky that’s at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) told Politico that Taylor provided “the most thorough accounting we’ve had of the timeline” and suggested the envoy had provided the committees with corroborating evidence.

“This testimony is a sea change,” Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) told Politico. “I think it could accelerate matters. This will, I think, answer more questions than it raises.”

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Gasps were reportedly heard from lawmakers throughout Taylor’s testimony, which began after House Democrats issued a subpoena following the State Department’s attempt to block Taylor from speaking.

“The body language of the people hearing it was ‘holy shit,’ seriously,” Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.), a member of the Oversight Committee, told Politico.

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“This testimony is a sea change. I think it could accelerate matters. This will, I think, answer more questions than it raises.”
—Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.)

“All I have to say is that in my 10 short months in Congress—it’s not even noon, right—and this is my most disturbing day in Congress so far,” Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) told reporters. “Very troubling.”

The progressive advocacy group Stand Up America said that following the testimony, Republicans in Congress are “out of excuses” and must vote to impeach Trump.

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“Today’s bombshell testimony proves without a shadow of a doubt that Donald Trump used military aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating a political rival,” said Sean Eldridge, president of the group. “Republicans in Congress must do their jobs and uphold their oath to defend our Constitution by voting to impeach and remove Donald Trump.”

“No one—including the criminal in the White House—is above the law,” he added.


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Trump unleashes yet another maddening scandal as he opens the door to Saudi Arabian interference

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I don’t often talk about how mad I am. I don’t often talk about how mad I am, because talking often about how mad I am prevents me from speaking clearly and rationally. I want to speak clearly and rationally. There is so much need for speaking clearly and rationally amid the endless streams of waste and filth polluting our public discourse.

This article was originally published at The Editorial Board

But I can’t speak clearly and rationally at the expense of morality. Morality often begins with a feeling. The Gospels tell us of Jesus looking on the poor—he could hear and smell their misery—and he was “moved with pity.” But another way of putting it, another way of translating ?????????????, is that the rabbi felt compassion “in his guts.

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US Supreme Court lets stand Kentucky law with abortion restrictions

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The US Supreme Court on Monday let stand a Kentucky law that requires doctors to make patients seeking an abortion look at fetal images taken by echocardiogram and to listen to their heartbeat.

Without explanation, as is customary, the top US court refused to hear a suit challenging the state law, which was passed in 2017.

The law requires doctors to show patients echocardiogram images of the fetus and describe to them its size and organs and have them listen to its heartbeat if it is detectable, even if the patient objects.

Kentucky's authorities justified the measure as needed to obtain the patient's "informed consent" before proceeding with an abortion.

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Chris Wallace shreds Ken Starr: Trump’s scandal ‘a much bigger issue than whether Bill Clinton lied about sex’

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Fox News host Chris Wallace argued that the deeds President Donald Trump is accused of are more serious to the country than President Bill Clinton's actions, who was impeached for lying about sex.

During a break in impeachment hearings on Monday, Wallace called out Ken Starr's "characterization of this process and what we heard today... he said that the presentation against the president is narrow, prosecutors look through the world through dirty windows, it's slanted."

"And you know, it just seems to me -- and Ken, I see you there on the screen so I'll be talking directly to you -- when you compare this to the Clinton impeachment, which was basically about whether the president had lied under oath about sex," Wallace continued. "I'm not talking about whether this story is true or not."

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