Behind-closed-door testimony from the acting ambassador to Ukraine reportedly elicited ‘sighs and gasps’ from House members hearing it in the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Sources said to be in the room for the testimony tell Politico that the opening statement by William Taylor, said to be some 15 pages long, detailed “how pervasive the efforts were” by Trump and his allies to force Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden and the Democrats.
A Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee described the testimony as “very troubling” to the Wall Street Journal. “All I have to say is that in my 10 short months in Congress – it’s not even noon, right – and this is my most disturbing day in Congress so far.”
Taylor, a key figure in the investigation, took over the ambassador’s role in Ukraine following the removal of Marie Yovanovich in May. In a series of text messages with European Union Ambassador Gordon Sundaland released earlier this month by the three committees conducting the inquiry, Taylor expressed concern that security assistant to Ukraine was being withheld unless officials there agreed to conduct the investigations demanded by Trump.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday afternoon that Taylor’s testimony directly contradicted earlier statements by Sondland that there was no mention of Joe Biden or his son Hunter in discussions between the diplomats and the White House.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, Trump decried the House’s inquiry as akin to a “lynching” and accused Democrats of trying to draw out the inquiry because they lack public support for it.
Republican members of the committees were described by reporters on the scene as being very “tight-lipped” about Taylor’s testimony Tuesday. None have suggested that the diplomat’s statements vindicated Trump or his subordinates.
Taylor was subpoenaed by the committee Tuesday morning after the State Department tried to block him from appearing.