The top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr., provided testimony to House impeachment investigators that left representatives shaken and multiple experts saying that he drew a “direct line” between the withholding of military aid to Ukraine and Trump’s requests for investigations into his political rival Joe Biden.
!!! Bill Taylor’s opening statement:— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) October 22, 2019
“During that phone call Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Urkainian interference in the 2016 US election.”
All of this was laid out in Taylor’s detailed, 15-page opening statement, which is available to the public.
Democrats are calling this testimony the most damaging evidence yet to Trump’s efforts to not be impeached. If they’re correct, Taylor’s statement could be the final nail in that particular coffin as support for impeachment rises among members of Congress and the general public.
After the testimony, Representative Andy Levin said he was experiencing “my most disturbing day in Congress so far.”
“All I have to say is in my ten short months in Congress, it’s not even noon and this is my most disturbing day in Congress so far. Very troubling.” - Rep. Andy Levin’s comments after emerging from Bill Taylor’s testimony pic.twitter.com/huOD2j54yR— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) October 22, 2019
According to the New York Times, Taylor testified that “the president had explicitly made it clear that Mr. Zelensky would not be invited to the White House or secure much-needed security aid unless the Ukrainian leader made a public announcement that his country would start the investigations that Mr. Trump so badly wanted.”
According to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who echoed Levin’s sentiment on how disturbing the testimony was, Taylor’s account fills in a lot of the gaps previously missing from the picture Democrats are forming for their impeachment inquiry.
“It’s like if you had a big, 1,000-piece puzzle on a table,” she said. “This fills in a lot of pieces of the puzzle.” These two representatives are far from the only ones feeling stunned by Taylor’s words.
“According to a source in the room for [US Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor’s] deposition, the longtime career government official’s opening statement was 15 pages long and prompted ‘a lot of sighs and gasps’ inside the room.”— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) October 22, 2019
Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch said after leaving the SCIF that Bill Taylor’s testimony “is a sea change.”— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) October 22, 2019
“This testimony is a sea change. I think it could accelerate matters,” he said. “This will, I think, answer more questions than it raises. Let’s put it that way.”
GOP first tried a hearsay defense. Then a process defense. Then they attacked Schiff.— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 22, 2019
Based on the reporting below on the statement of Bill Taylor, my prediction is that some Republicans will now say quid pro quo is okay. And then they will lose their last shreds of integrity. https://t.co/kzzsNUrPp5
Bill Taylor confirmed today that the release of aid to Ukraine was contingent on a *public announcement* that Ukraine was investigating the Bidens. As I wrote here, this was an attempt to push a covert propaganda op on the American public, which is ILLEGAL https://t.co/Tur8pw2X6G— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) October 22, 2019
WOW.— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) October 22, 2019
This is Bill Taylor's testimony.
“Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check.”
WELL, that Bill Taylor testimony is certainly an undeniably damning piece of evidence that comports with every other piece of evidence as well as the confessions of various people involved in the criminal scheme!— Jon Lovett (respookted on BOOth sides) (@jonlovett) October 22, 2019
No wonder Trump has been #NationalNutDay.— Grant Stern (@grantstern) October 22, 2019
Bill Taylor is a tough, career Ambassador serving in Ukraine, a war-torn country.
He says Trump's flunkee Sondland conditioned security assistance fighting Russia on starting a phony investigation into Joe Biden.#ImpeachmentTaskForce
Bill Taylor’s testimony today was damning—It confirmed Trump used a White House meeting and aid money to try and blackmail Ukraine into investigating Biden. That’s why Trump used the word lynching to distract. He’s desperate and knows Taylor’s testimony should end his presidency.— Scott Dworkin (@funder) October 22, 2019
Members have described Bill Taylor’s testimony this morning as disturbing and very credible, backed up by “meticulous” contemporaneous notes he took during phone calls and meetings. Those formed the backbone of a lengthy opening statement.— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) October 22, 2019
The only question left might be how much worse things can get for Trump before the impeachment hammer officially drops.