The current acting Ambassador in Ukraine told lawmakers on Tuesday that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was held up by the White House in an effort to pressure Ukraine to publicly announce investigations which could benefit the re-election campaign of President Donald Trump, a charge the White House has repeatedly denied.
"President Trump did insist that President Zelenskyy go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference," William Taylor said in a 15 page opening statement.
Taylor said he was told by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, that President Zelenskyy should make the announcement of the election investigations on CNN.
In his testimony, Taylor repeated for lawmakers what he had put in a text message to Sondland, that the idea of 'holding up security assistance for domestic political gain was 'crazy.'"
TAYLOR: "[Mr. Morrison] went on to describe a conversation Ambassador Sondland had with Mr. Yermak at Warsaw. Ambassador Sondland told Mr. Yermak that the security assistance money would not come until President Zelenskyy committed to pursue the Burisma investigation."— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) October 22, 2019
While President Trump said there was no quid pro quo of any kind, Taylor said that's clear what was going on.
"By mid-July it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelenskyy wanted (with President Trump) was conditioned on the investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections," Taylor told lawmakers.
Burisma is the company which involves Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden. The other request was related to President Trump's belief that the DNC server hacked by Russia in 2016 was somehow being hidden in Ukraine.
Democrats said the testimony was dramatic.
"Trump committed a blatantly impeachable act and lied about it," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).
President Trump waged a shakedown of Ukraine for his own political gain – withholding support for a "favor" to undermine our elections. Ambassador Bill Taylor stood up to help uncover the truth for the American people. He is a patriot. https://t.co/7FGeyY8BqM— Ben Ray Luján (@repbenraylujan) October 22, 2019
I cannot overstate how damaging this Amb Taylor testimony is to Trump. pic.twitter.com/ARLewa1DCV— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) October 22, 2019
“In my ten short months in Congress, this is my most disturbing day in Congress so far,” said Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), after listening to testimony delivered by Taylor on Tuesday morning.
“This testimony is a sea change," said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA). "I think it could accelerate matters."
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