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Top Ukraine Envoy's Testimony Released

William Taylor told lawmakers he threatened to quit over Trump's Ukraine demand
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2019 3:18 PM CST
In this file photo taken on July 27, 2019, US Ambassador in Ukraine William Taylor speaks during a briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine.   (AP Photo/Inna Sokolovska)

(Newser) – The transcript of William Taylor's testimony in the Trump impeachment inquiry was released Wednesday, and the Los Angeles Times reports it reveals that Taylor, the top US official in Ukraine, threatened to quit over President Trump's demand that "President Zelensky ... state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma [the natural gas company the Bidens have been involved with] and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US election." Taylor, per the 324-page transcript, described such a statement as "a nightmare" in a Sept. 8 text message to Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the EU, and said he would step down if such a statement were made. Taylor noted to Sondland that it was especially problematic there was no guarantee security aid, which the country needs to defend itself against Russia, would be released to Ukraine even if such a statement were made.

Were the aid not released, Taylor said in his testimony, "The Russians want to know how much support the Ukrainians are going to get in general, but also what kind of support from the Americans. So the Russians are loving, would love, the humiliation of Zelensky at the hand of the Americans, and would give the Russians a freer hand, and I would quit." Taylor was the first person to testify who gave evidence of quid pro quo, testifying that Trump prevented the release of aid until an investigation was announced, though Fox News reports he acknowledged not having firsthand knowledge of "what was in the president's mind." In his testimony, he cast doubt on Sondland's earlier testimony to lawmakers; Sondland recently revised that testimony and claimed testimony from others, including Taylor, had "refreshed" his memory of telling Zelensky aid would not be delivered until a probe was announced. (Taylor will be one of the first to testify in a major new phase of the impeachment inquiry next week.)

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