Ex-Russian ambassador astonished by Bill Taylor’s revelation about 'extraordinary' Trump-Sondland call
Gordon Sondland (Photo: Screen capture)

The former U.S. ambassador to Russia called out a new bombshell from Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor as a national security -- and potential blackmail -- risk.


President Donald Trump's acting ambassador to Ukraine testified Wednesday in a House impeachment inquiry hearing that one of his staffers overheard the president discussing an apparent extortion scheme with his EU ambassador, Gordon Sondland, on July 26 at a restaurant.

"In the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv,” Taylor testified. “The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations.'”

“Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward,” Taylor added.

That incident, which Taylor told lawmakers he learned about Friday, after his previous closed-door deposition, showed an astonishing lack of ethics and concern for security, said former Russia ambassador Michael McFaul.

"Sondland calling Trump on a cellphone from Kyiv is extraordinary for all sorts of reasons," McFaul tweeted. "Normally EU Ambos don’t call presidents. They never do so to discuss Ukraine policy. Doing so on a cellphone from Kyiv means whole world was listening in."

That potentially placed Trump or his EU ambassador at risk for blackmail by any foreign powers that had tapped into Sondland's phone, and McFaul said the testimony also blows apart another one of the president's defenses.

"And remember, Trump said recently that he doesn’t even know Sondland," McFaul tweeted, "yet Sondland can get Trump on the line while sitting in a restaurant in Kyiv? Hmmm."