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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
“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.
‘It’s not a both sides thing’: CNN host battles Trump aide over hydroxychloroquine misinformation
CNN host Jim Sciutto took on White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Monday about his evangelism of the drug hydroxychloroquine.
During an interview with Navarro, Sciutto noted that Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Brett Giroir had recently said that there is no benefit in taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat COVID-19.
"Given your past public support for it," Sciutto said, "is it time for the administration to focus on proven treatments for COVID rather than one that has not been proven?"
Oklahoma teacher threatened by COVID-19 regrets vote for Trump — and blasts his ‘failure of leadership’
On Monday, CNN spoke with Nancy Shively, an Oklahoma special education teacher who wrote for USA TODAY that she regrets her 2016 vote for President Donald Trump.
"You spoke strongly and with feeling in this editorial," said anchor Jim Sciutto. "You said you fear now with the pandemic, you may have 'signed your own death warrant.' That's a remarkable thought to express."
"Well, just watching the failure of leadership in our country, beginning with the president, over the course of this pandemic, it's not just my death warrant I might have signed, but there's 150,000 Americans who are dead because of this," said Shively. "I have to take responsibility for my personal vote that enabled that."
Trump has ‘confused’ his own voters about mail-in ballots — and GOP fears ‘turnout crisis’: report
President Donald Trump's frequent attacks on mail-in voting have made his own voters far less likely to take advantage of filing absentee ballots -- and the Washington Post reports that GOP operatives fear it could create a "turnout crisis."
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill tells the Post that he recently met with a group of Republican voters who traditionally send their ballots through the mail, but were now reluctant to do so thanks to the president's regular attacks on the system.