Key Takeaways From Envoy Who Contradicts Trump’s Ukraine Defense

Steven T. Dennis
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Key Takeaways From Envoy Who Contradicts Trump’s Ukraine Defense

(Bloomberg) -- William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, on Tuesday delivered House investigators a detailed account of his dealings with the country that bolstered claims at the heart of the impeachment inquiry -- that President Donald Trump sought a quid pro quo with Kyiv to investigate a political rival, Joe Biden, and his son.

Here are the key takeaways from Taylor’s testimony:

Trump wanted to put Zelenskiy ‘in a public box’

Taylor testified that he was told by Gordon Sondland, a Trump donor who was named ambassador to the European Union, that Trump wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy “to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.” Sondland added that Trump wanted to put Zelenskiy “in a public box,” Taylor said.

(Trump has claimed without evidence that Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, was involved in corrupt activities at Burisma, an energy company that hired him for the board of directors.)

Details of July call kept from top Ukraine envoy

Despite being America’s top envoy to Ukraine, Taylor was not given a readout of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelenskiy. In fact, he said he didn’t see a transcript of the call until it was released publicly last month. But in conversations with Sondland and other diplomats, Taylor became alarmed at what he saw as a “crazy” link between military aid and Trump’s desire for investigations to help his political campaign.

Sondland said Trump expected something in return for aid

According to Taylor, Sondland described the president as a businessman who expects something in return for the aid. “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,” Taylor said in his testimony, recounting what Sondland told him during a Sept. 8 phone call. Taylor said he argued Ukraine didn’t owe the U.S. anything.

NSC aide said Trump meeting conditioned on Biden probe

Taylor said he had earlier been told by Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council expert on Russia, that a meeting with Zelenskiy was being conditioned on the Ukrainian president agreeing to investigations sought by Trump.

Trump ordered hold on aid

Taylor said he was told a week before Trump’s call with Zelenskiy that Trump ordered the hold on the military aid via his Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

Giuliani was key figure behind “irregular policy channel”

Taylor said it was becoming clear to him by mid-July that an “irregular policy channel” guided by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was behind efforts to condition a meeting Zelenskiy sought with Trump on the investigations of Burisma and the 2016 elections.

‘Stalemate’ on aid without public statement from Zelenskiy

Sondland told Taylor on Sept. 8 that Trump didn’t want a “quid pro quo,” but Sondland also said he told Zelenskiy that “if Zelenskiy did not ‘clear things up’ in public, we would be at a ‘stalemate.’” Taylor said he took ‘stalemate’ to mean Ukraine would not get the aid without a public declaration from Zelenskiy of the investigations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Joshua Gallu, Bill Faries

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