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‘Snake pit’: 5 stunning revelations from ambassador Bill Taylor’s Trump-Ukraine testimony

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The release of ambassador Bill Taylor’s impeachment testimony has fleshed out some of the explosive revelations in his previously published opening statement in which he claimed that military aid to Ukraine was being withheld until the Ukrainian government agreed to announce investigations into President Donald Trump’s political rivals.

While Taylor’s opening statement provided the clearest picture yet of the president’s sleazy attempts to extort a foreign country, his subsequent testimony also outlined more damning details about Trump-era foreign policy.

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Here are the five most stunning revelations.

1.) Trump’s insane plan to buy Greenland from Denmark actually used up a lot of National Security Council resources. This past summer, it was revealed that Trump wanted to buy Greenland and make it part of the United States.

While this plan was laughed off by the Danish government, it actually had real repercussions for American policy, as Taylor testified that the Greenland issue left the NSC with less time to concentrate on shoring up support for Ukraine.

“I think this was also about the time of the Greenland question, about purchasing Greenland, which took up a lot of energy at NSC,” Taylor said in response to why it was proving so difficult to get on the same page as new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

2.) Taylor described Trump’s Ukrainian policy as a “snake pit.” The ambassador testified that he was wary of taking on the job of acting ambassador to Ukraine because he feared he’d be hampered by the antics of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and other Trump allies.

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“I was concerned that there was — I think I put it — a snake pit in Kyiv and a snake pit here,” Taylor said, in explaining his reluctance to accept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s job offer.

Taylor said he nonetheless accepted the job after Pompeo assured him American policy toward Ukraine would remain consistent with how it had been in previous administrations.

3.) Taylor and other diplomats “sat in astonishment” after hearing that aid was being withheld. The Trump administration put a hold on delivering military aid to Ukraine in July, just before Trump’s now-infamous phone call with Zelensky.

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According to Taylor, he first learned of this decision after a representative from the Office of Management and Budget told him and other diplomats that White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had instructed her not to disburse the aid that had been approved by Congress.

“I and others in the call sat in astonishment,” he said. “The Ukrainians were fighting the Russians and counted on not only the training and weapons but also the assurance of U.S. support.”

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4.) Taylor says that Russia is “loving” watching Ukraine twist in the wind as it gets caught up in American domestic politics.

In an example of how the Trump administration’s attempts to extort Ukraine have undermined American foreign policy goals, Taylor said that the Russians were happy to see Ukraine’s new reformist president caught up in scandal within months of his election.

“The Russians want to know how much support the Ukrainians are going to get in general, but also what kind of support from the Americans,” he said. “So the Russians are loving, would love, the humiliation of Zelensky at the hands of the Americans.”

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5.) Ukraine’s finance minister told Taylor that Zelensky was concerned about doing the president’s bidding and launching his investigations.

In a talk with Ukrainian Finance Minister Sasha Danyliuk, Taylor said that he was told that Zelensky is “sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic reelection politics.”

Taylor was then asked what he believed Zelensky was talking about with regard to “Washington reelection politics.”

“I’m sure that was a reference to the investigations that Mr. Giuliani wanted to pursue,” Taylor replied.

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