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'sea change'

Ukraine diplomat's congressional testimony reportedly draws 'sighs and gasps'

Democrats are describing the testimony of a key diplomat in President Trump's Ukraine scandal as "incredibly damaging."

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified Tuesday before the House of Representatives amid the impeachment inquiry into whether Trump abused his power by pushing for Ukraine to conduct investigations that might help him in the 2020 presidential election. A key question in the inquiry is whether Trump held up aid to Ukraine to secure these investigations, and Taylor in text messages released earlier this month wrote, "I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."

Taylor's 15-page opening statement Tuesday drew "sighs and gasps," Politico reports. He reportedly described "how pervasive the efforts were to tie an investigation of Burisma and 2016 election 'interference' to a White House meeting and aid being released," as Politico's Andrew Desiderio quotes a source as having described. Burisma is the Ukrainian gas company where former Vice President Joe Biden's son served on the board.

CNN additionally reports Taylor testified that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told him "that security aid to Ukraine could have been held up in part because of a push for Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation that could help Trump politically," although Taylor reportedly said he couldn't get a "straight answer" about why the aid was being delayed.

Democrats came out of the testimony describing it as quite damning, with freshman Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) telling The Wall Street Journal "this is my most disturbing day in Congress so far," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) telling Politico it was "incredibly damaging to the president," and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) telling CNN the testimony is a "sea change." Republicans, though, seem to have had an entirely different reaction, with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) telling CNN there was "nothing new here."