A key diplomat says he was told aid to Ukraine was dependent upon the country announcing investigations into the 2016 election and former Vice President Joe Biden, The Washington Post and The New York Times report.
Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified Tuesday before Congress as part of the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry, which is examining whether Trump abused the power of the presidency to push for investigations that he thought might help him in the 2020 presidential election and withheld aid to the country until such investigations took place. In previously released text messages, Taylor said it was "crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."
In his testimony, Taylor told lawmakers he spoke with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who "told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President [Volodymyr] Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election," the Post reports. Burisma is the gas company where Biden's son served on the board.
Taylor reportedly went on to testify that Sondland "told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with President Zelensky was dependent on a public announcement of investigations — in fact, Amb. Sondland said, 'everything' was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.'"
"Sighs and gasps" were reportedly heard throughout the room as Taylor delivered his lengthy opening statement, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) told the Post this was "the most damning testimony I've heard," while Rep. Stephen Lynch, (D-Mass.) told ABC News this is a "sea change," and it might "accelerate" the inquiry's timeline.