Declaración inaugural del embajador Bill Taylor 22 de octubre de 2019 - Historia

Declaración inaugural del embajador Bill Taylor 22 de octubre de 2019 - Historia

Señor Presidente, agradezco la oportunidad de comparecer hoy para brindar mi perspectiva sobre los eventos que son el tema de la investigación de los Comités. Mi único propósito es proporcionar a los Comités mis opiniones sobre la importancia estratégica de Ucrania para los Estados Unidos, así como información adicional sobre los incidentes en cuestión.

He dedicado mi vida a servir los intereses de Estados Unidos en el país y en el extranjero, tanto en funciones militares como civiles. Mi formación y experiencia no son partidistas y he tenido el honor de servir en todas las administraciones, republicanas y demócratas, desde 1985.

Durante 50 años, he servido al país, comenzando como cadete en West Point, luego como oficial de infantería durante seis años, incluso con la 101 División Aerotransportada en Vietnam; luego en el Departamento de Energía; luego como miembro del personal del Senado; luego en la OTAN; luego con el Departamento de Estado aquí y en el extranjero - en Afganistán, Irak, Jerusalén y Ucrania; y más recientemente, como vicepresidente ejecutivo del Instituto de la Paz de los Estados Unidos, que no es partidista.

Si bien he trabajado en muchos lugares y en diferentes capacidades, tengo un interés particular y respeto por la importancia de la relación de nuestro país con Ucrania. Nuestra seguridad nacional exige que esta relación se mantenga fuerte. Sin embargo, en agosto y septiembre de este año, me preocupé cada vez más que nuestra relación con Ucrania se estaba debilitando fundamentalmente por un canal irregular e informal de la formulación de políticas estadounidenses y por la retención de recursos vitales. asistencia de seguridad por razones de política nacional. Espero que mis comentarios de hoy ayuden a los Comités a comprender por qué yo creía que ese era el caso.

Al principio, me gustaría transmitir varios puntos clave. En primer lugar, Ucrania es un socio estratégico de Estados Unidos, importante para la seguridad de nuestro país y de Europa. En segundo lugar, Ucrania está, justo en este momento, mientras estamos sentados en esta sala, y durante los últimos cinco años, bajo un ataque armado de Rusia. En tercer lugar, la asistencia de seguridad que brindamos es fundamental para la defensa de Ucrania contra la agresión rusa y, lo que es más importante, envía una señal a los ucranianos, y a los rusos, de que somos un socio estratégico confiable de Ucrania. Y finalmente, como ahora saben los Comités, dije el 9 de septiembre en un mensaje al Embajador Gordon Sondland que retener la asistencia de seguridad a cambio de ayuda con una campaña política interna en los Estados Unidos sería "una locura". Entonces lo creí y todavía lo creo.

Permítanme ahora brindarles a los Comités una cronología de los eventos que suscitaron mi preocupación.

El 28 de mayo de este año, me reuní con el secretario Mike Pompeo, quien me pidió que regresara a Kiev para dirigir nuestra embajada en Ucrania. Fue, y es, un momento crítico en las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Ucrania: Volodymyr Zelenskyy acababa de ser elegido presidente y Ucrania seguía en guerra con Rusia. A medida que se acercaba el verano, se sentaría un nuevo gobierno ucraniano, las elecciones parlamentarias eran inminentes y la trayectoria política ucraniana se establecería para los próximos años.

Me desempeñé como Embajador en Ucrania de 2006 a 2009, después de haber sido nominado por George W. Bush y, en los 10 años intermedios, he permanecido comprometido con Ucrania, visitando con frecuencia desde 2013 como miembro de la junta de un pequeño país no ucraniano. organización gubernamental que apoya la buena gobernanza y la reforma. A pesar de las responsabilidades que he tenido en el servicio público, Ucrania es especial para mí, y la oferta del secretario Pompeo de regresar como Jefe de Misión fue convincente. Estoy convencido de la profunda importancia de Ucrania para la seguridad de Estados Unidos y Europa por dos razones relacionadas:

Primero, si Ucrania logra liberarse de la influencia rusa, es posible que Europa sea íntegra, libre, democrática y en paz. Por el contrario, si Rusia domina Ucrania, Rusia volverá a convertirse en un imperio, oprimiendo a su gente y amenazando a sus vecinos y al resto del mundo.

En segundo lugar, con la anexión de Crimea en 2014 y la continua agresión en Donbas, Rusia violó innumerables tratados, ignoró todos los compromisos y rechazó todos los principios que han mantenido la paz y contribuido a la prosperidad en Europa desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Para restaurar la independencia de Ucrania, Rusia debe abandonar Ucrania. Este ha sido y debe seguir siendo un objetivo bipartidista de la política exterior de Estados Unidos.

Cuando estaba sirviendo fuera del gobierno durante la administración de Obama y después de la invasión rusa de Ucrania en 2014, me uní a otros dos ex embajadores en Ucrania para instar a los funcionarios de la administración de Obama en el Departamento de Estado, el Departamento de Defensa y otras agencias a proporcionar armas defensivas letales. a Ucrania para disuadir una mayor agresión rusa. También apoyé sanciones mucho más estrictas contra Rusia.

En total, me preocupaba el futuro de Ucrania y los importantes intereses estadounidenses allí. Entonces, cuando el secretario Pompeo me pidió que regresara a Kiev, quise decir "sí".

Pero no fue una decisión fácil. La ex embajadora, Masha Yovanovitch, había sido tratada mal, atrapada en una red de maquinaciones políticas tanto en Kiev como en Washington. Temí que esos problemas aún estuvieran presentes. Sin embargo, cuando le hablé de aceptar la oferta, me instó a ir, tanto por razones políticas como por la moral de la embajada.

Antes de responder al secretario, consulté tanto a mi esposa como a un respetado ex alto funcionario republicano que ha sido un mentor para mí. Les diré que mi esposa, en términos inequívocos, se opuso firmemente a la idea. El mentor aconsejó: si su país le pide que haga algo, hágalo, si puede ser eficaz.

Solo podría ser eficaz si la política de Estados Unidos de fuerte apoyo a Ucrania - un fuerte apoyo diplomático junto con una sólida seguridad, asistencia económica y técnica - continuara y si tuviera el respaldo del Secretario de Estado para implementar esa política. Me preocupaba lo que había escuchado sobre el papel de Rudolph Giuliani, quien había hecho varias declaraciones de alto perfil sobre Ucrania y la política de Estados Unidos hacia el país. Entonces, durante mi reunión con el secretario Pompeo el 28 de mayo, le dejé en claro a él y a los demás presentes que si cambiaba la política de Estados Unidos hacia Ucrania, él no querría que me publicaran allí y que no podría quedarme. Me aseguró que continuaría la política de firme apoyo a Ucrania y que me apoyaría en la defensa de esa política.

Con ese entendimiento, acepté volver a Kiev. Como fui nombrado por el Secretario pero no reconfirmado por el Senado, mi puesto oficial fue el de Encargado de Negocios interino.

* * * * *

Regresé a Kiev el 17 de junio, con la copia original de una carta que el presidente Trump firmó el día después de reunirme con el secretario. En esa carta, el presidente Trump felicitó al presidente Zelenskyy por su victoria electoral y lo invitó a una reunión en la Oficina Oval. También traje una copia enmarcada de la declaración del Secretario de que Estados Unidos nunca reconocería la anexión ilegal de Crimea por parte de Rusia.

Pero una vez que llegué a Kiev, descubrí una extraña combinación de circunstancias alentadoras, confusas y, en última instancia, alarmantes.

Primero, lo alentador: el presidente Zelenskyy se estaba apoderando de Ucrania a toda prisa. Había nombrado ministros reformistas y apoyado una legislación anticorrupción estancada durante mucho tiempo. Tomó medidas ejecutivas rápidas, incluida la apertura del Tribunal Superior Anticorrupción de Ucrania, que se estableció bajo la administración presidencial anterior pero nunca se le permitió operar. Convocó elecciones parlamentarias anticipadas (su partido era tan nuevo que no tenía representación en la Rada) y luego ganó un mandato abrumador, controlando el 60 por ciento de los escaños. Con su nueva mayoría parlamentaria, el presidente Zelenskyy cambió la constitución ucraniana para eliminar la inmunidad absoluta de los diputados de la Rada, que había sido la fuente de la corrupción pura durante dos décadas. Hubo mucho entusiasmo en Kiev porque esta vez las cosas podrían ser diferentes: una nueva Ucrania finalmente podría estar rompiendo con su pasado corrupto y postsoviético.

Y, sin embargo, encontré un arreglo confuso e inusual para hacer la política de Estados Unidos hacia Ucrania. Parecía haber dos canales de formulación e implementación de políticas en los Estados Unidos, uno regular y otro muy irregular. Como Jefe de Misión, tenía autoridad sobre los procesos diplomáticos formales y regulares, incluida la mayor parte del esfuerzo de Estados Unidos para apoyar a Ucrania contra la invasión rusa y ayudarla a derrotar la corrupción. Este canal regular de formulación de políticas de Estados Unidos ha tenido un fuerte apoyo bipartidista tanto en el Congreso como en todas las administraciones desde la independencia de Ucrania de Rusia en 1991.

Al mismo tiempo, sin embargo, había un canal informal e irregular de formulación de políticas de Estados Unidos con respecto a Ucrania, uno que incluía al entonces enviado especial Kurt Volker, el embajador Sondland, el secretario de Energía Rick Perry y, como supe posteriormente, el Sr. Giuliani. Claramente estaba en el canal regular, pero también en el irregular en la medida en que los embajadores Volker y Sondland me incluyeron en ciertas conversaciones. Aunque este canal irregular estaba bien conectado en Washington, operaba principalmente fuera de los canales oficiales del Departamento de Estado. Este canal irregular comenzó cuando el embajador Volker, el embajador Sondland, el secretario Perry y el senador Ron Johnson informaron al presidente Trump el 23 de mayo a su regreso de la toma de posesión del presidente Zelenskyy. La delegación regresó a Washington entusiasmada con el nuevo presidente ucraniano e instó al presidente Trump a reunirse con él desde el principio para cimentar la relación entre Estados Unidos y Ucrania. Pero por lo que entendí, el presidente Trump no compartió su entusiasmo por una reunión con Zelenskyy.

Cuando llegué por primera vez a Kiev, en junio y julio, las acciones de los canales regulares e irregulares de la política exterior tenían el mismo objetivo: un Estados Unidos fuerte.

Asociación de Ucrania, pero en agosto me quedó claro que los canales habían divergido en sus objetivos. Mientras esto ocurría, me preocupé cada vez más.

A finales de junio, uno de los objetivos de ambos canales era facilitar una visita del presidente Zelenskyy a la Casa Blanca para una reunión con el presidente Trump, que el presidente Trump había prometido en su carta de felicitación del 29 de mayo. Los ucranianos estaban claramente ansiosos por la reunión. que suceda. Durante una conferencia telefónica con el Embajador Volker, el Subsecretario de Estado interino para Asuntos Europeos y Euroasiáticos, Phil Reeker, el Secretario Perry, el Embajador Sondland y el Consejero del Departamento de Estado de EE. UU. Ulrich Brechbuhl el 18 de junio, quedó claro que una reunión entre los dos presidentes fue un objetivo acordado.

Pero durante mis comunicaciones posteriores con los embajadores Volker y Sondland, me transmitieron que el presidente “quería escuchar a Zelenskyy” antes de programar la reunión en la Oficina Oval. No me quedó claro qué significaba esto.

El 27 de junio, el embajador Sondland me dijo durante una conversación telefónica que el presidente Zelenskyy necesitaba dejar en claro al presidente Trump que él, el presidente Zelenskyy, no se interponía en el camino de las "investigaciones".

Sentí algo extraño cuando el Embajador Sondland me dijo el 28 de junio que no deseaba incluir a la mayoría de los participantes habituales entre agencias en una llamada planificada con el presidente Zelenskyy ese mismo día. El Embajador Sondland, el Embajador Volker, el Secretario Perry y yo estábamos en esta llamada, marcando desde diferentes lugares. Sin embargo, el embajador Sondland dijo que quería asegurarse de que nadie estuviera transcribiendo o monitoreando, ya que agregaron al presidente Zelenskyy a la llamada. Además, antes de que el presidente Zelenskyy se uniera a la llamada, el embajador Volker dijo por separado a los participantes estadounidenses que él, el embajador Volker, planeaba ser explícito con el presidente Zelenskyy en una reunión individual en Toronto el 2 de julio sobre lo que el presidente Zelenskyy debería hacer para conseguir la reunión de la Casa Blanca. Una vez más, no me quedó claro en esa llamada lo que esto significaba, pero el embajador Volker señaló que transmitiría que el presidente Trump quería ver el estado de derecho, la transparencia, pero también, específicamente, la cooperación en las investigaciones para “llegar al fondo de la situación”. cosas." Una vez que el presidente Zelenskyy se unió a la llamada, la conversación se centró en la política energética y el puente Stanytsia-Luhanska. El presidente Zelenskyy también dijo que esperaba con interés la visita a la Casa Blanca que el presidente Trump había ofrecido en su carta del 29 de mayo.

Informé sobre esta llamada al subsecretario adjunto de Estado, George Kent, quien tenía la responsabilidad de Ucrania, y escribí un memorando para el registro con fecha del 30 de junio que resumía nuestra conversación con el presidente Zelenskyy.

A mediados de julio, me quedó claro que la reunión que quería el presidente Zelenskyy estaba condicionada a las investigaciones de Burisma y la presunta interferencia de Ucrania en las elecciones estadounidenses de 2016. También estaba claro que esta condición fue impulsada por el canal de política irregular que había llegado a entender fue guiado por el Sr. Giuliani.

El 10 de julio, los funcionarios ucranianos Alexander Danyliuk, asesor de seguridad nacional de Ucrania, Andriy Yermak, asistente del presidente Zelenskyy, y el secretario Perry, el entonces asesor de seguridad nacional John Bolton, el embajador Volker y el embajador Sondland se reunieron en la Casa Blanca. No participé en la reunión y no recibí una lectura de la misma hasta que hablé con la entonces directora principal de Asuntos Europeos y Rusos del Consejo de Seguridad Nacional (NSC), Fiona Hill, y con el Director de Asuntos Europeos del NSC, Alex Vindman, en 19 de julio.

El 10 de julio en Kiev, me reuní con el jefe de gabinete del presidente Zelenskyy, Andrei Bohdan, y entonces asesor de política exterior del presidente y ahora canciller Vadym Prystaiko, quien me dijo que habían escuchado del Sr. Giuliani que la llamada telefónica entre Era poco probable que ocurrieran los dos presidentes y que estaban alarmados y decepcionados. Transmití sus preocupaciones al Consejero Brechbuhl.

En una videoconferencia segura regular de NSC el 18 de julio, escuché a un miembro del personal de la Oficina de Administración y Presupuesto (OMB) decir que había una suspensión en la asistencia de seguridad a Ucrania, pero no podía decir por qué. Hacia el final de una reunión por lo demás normal, una voz en la llamada, la persona estaba fuera de la pantalla, dijo que ella era de OMB y que su jefe le había dado instrucciones de no aprobar ningún gasto adicional de asistencia de seguridad para Ucrania hasta nuevo aviso. Otros y yo nos quedamos asombrados: los ucranianos estaban luchando contra los rusos y contaban no solo con el entrenamiento y las armas, sino también con la seguridad del apoyo de Estados Unidos. Todo lo que dijo el miembro del personal de la OMB fue que la directiva había venido del presidente al jefe de personal de la OMB. En un instante, me di cuenta de que uno de los pilares clave de nuestro firme apoyo a Ucrania estaba amenazado. El canal de política irregular iba en contra de los objetivos de la política estadounidense de larga data.

Siguió una serie de reuniones interinstitucionales dirigidas por el NSC, comenzando a nivel del personal y llegando rápidamente al nivel de secretarios de gabinete. En cada reunión, el

La conclusión unánime fue que debería reanudarse la asistencia en materia de seguridad y levantarse la suspensión. En un momento, se le pidió al Departamento de Defensa que realizara un análisis de la efectividad de la asistencia. En un día, el Departamento de Defensa regresó con la determinación de que la asistencia era eficaz y debía reanudarse. Tengo entendido que los Secretarios de Defensa y Estado, el Director de la CIA y el Asesor de Seguridad Nacional buscaron una reunión conjunta con el presidente para convencerlo de que liberara la suspensión, pero esa reunión fue difícil de programar y la suspensión se prolongó hasta bien entrado septiembre. .

Al día siguiente, por teléfono, el Dr. Hill y el Sr. Vindman intentaron asegurarme que no estaban al tanto de ningún cambio oficial en la política de Estados Unidos hacia Ucrania, a pesar del anuncio de la OMB. Confirmaron que la suspensión de la asistencia de seguridad para Ucrania provino del Jefe de Estado Mayor Mick Mulvaney y que el Jefe de Estado Mayor mantuvo una visión escéptica de Ucrania.

En la misma llamada telefónica del 19 de julio, me dieron un relato de la reunión del 10 de julio con los funcionarios ucranianos en la Casa Blanca. Específicamente, me dijeron que el Embajador Sondland había conectado "investigaciones" con una reunión en la Oficina Oval del presidente Zelenskyy, lo que irritó tanto al Embajador Bolton que terminó abruptamente la reunión, diciéndole al Dr. Vindman que no deberían tener nada que ver con la política interna. También ordenó al Dr. Hill que "informara a los abogados". El Dr. Hill dijo que el Embajador Bolton se refirió a esto como un "trato de drogas" después de la reunión del 10 de julio. El embajador Bolton se opuso a una llamada entre el presidente Zelenskyy y el presidente Trump por temor a que "sería un desastre".

No hace falta decir que los ucranianos en las reuniones estaban confundidos. El embajador Bolton, en el canal habitual de toma de decisiones sobre políticas de Ucrania, quería hablar sobre seguridad, energía y reforma; El embajador Sondland, participante del canal irregular, quiso hablar sobre la conexión entre una reunión en la Casa Blanca y las investigaciones de Ucrania.

También durante nuestra llamada del 19 de julio, el Dr. Hill me informó que el Embajador Volker se había reunido con el Sr. Giuliani para hablar sobre Ucrania. Esto me tomó por sorpresa. Al día siguiente le pregunté al Embajador Volker sobre esa reunión, pero no recibí respuesta. Comencé a sentir que los dos canales de toma de decisiones, el regular y el irregular, estaban separados y en desacuerdo.

Más tarde, el 19 de julio y en la madrugada del 20 de julio (hora de Kiev), recibí mensajes de texto en una conversación de texto de WhatsApp de tres vías con los embajadores Volker y Sondland, un registro que, según tengo entendido, ya se ha proporcionado a la

Comités del Embajador Volker. El embajador Sondland dijo que pronto se llevaría a cabo una llamada entre el presidente Trump y el presidente Zelenskyy. El embajador Volker dijo que lo que fue "[m] ás imbuido es que Zelensky diga que ayudará en la investigación, y abordará cualquier problema de personal específico, si es que hay alguno".

Más tarde, el 20 de julio, tuve una conversación telefónica con el embajador Sondland mientras estaba en un tren de París a Londres, el embajador Sondland me dijo que le había recomendado al presidente Zelenskyy que usara la frase: "No dejaré piedra sin remover" con con respecto a las "investigaciones" cuando el presidente Zelenskyy habló con el presidente Trump.

También el 20 de julio, tuve una conversación telefónica con el Sr. Danyliuk, durante la cual me transmitió que el presidente Zelenskyy no quería ser utilizado como peón en una campaña de reelección de Estados Unidos. Al día siguiente, envié un mensaje de texto a los embajadores Volker y Sondland sobre la preocupación del presidente Zelenskyy.

El 25 de julio, el presidente Trump y el presidente Zelenskyy tuvieron la tan esperada conversación telefónica. Curiosamente, aunque era Jefe de Misión y tenía programado reunirme con el presidente Zelenskyy junto con el embajador Volker al día siguiente, no recibí ninguna lectura de la llamada de la Casa Blanca. El gobierno de Ucrania emitió un breve y críptico resumen.

Durante una reunión previamente planificada para el 26 de julio, el presidente Zelenskyy nos dijo al embajador Volker y a mí que estaba contento con la llamada, pero no dio más detalles. El presidente Zelenskyy luego preguntó sobre la reunión cara a cara en la Oficina Oval como se prometió en la carta del 29 de mayo del presidente Trump.

Después de nuestra reunión con el presidente Zelenskyy, el embajador Volker y yo viajamos al frente en el norte de Donbas para recibir un informe del comandante de las fuerzas en la línea de contacto. Al llegar para la sesión informativa en el cuartel general militar, el comandante nos agradeció por la asistencia de seguridad, pero yo sabía que esta asistencia estaba en espera, lo que me incomodaba.

El embajador Volker y yo pudimos ver las fuerzas armadas y hostiles dirigidas por Rusia al otro lado del puente dañado a través de la línea de contacto. Más de 13.000 ucranianos habían muerto en la guerra, uno o dos por semana. Sin duda, más ucranianos morirían sin la ayuda de Estados Unidos.

Aunque pasé la mañana del 26 de julio con el presidente Zelenskyy y otros funcionarios ucranianos, el primer resumen de la llamada Trump-Zelenskyy que escuché de alguien dentro del gobierno de los Estados Unidos fue durante una llamada telefónica que tuve con Tim Morrison, el reciente reemplazo del Dr. Hill. en el NSC, el 28 de julio. El Sr. Morrison me dijo que la llamada "podría haber sido mejor" y que el presidente Trump había sugerido que el presidente Zelenskyy o su personal se reunieran con el Sr. Giuliani y el Fiscal General William Barr. No vi ninguna lectura oficial de la llamada hasta que se hizo pública el 25 de septiembre.

El 16 de agosto, intercambié mensajes de texto con el Embajador Volker en los que supe que el Sr. Yeriak había pedido que Estados Unidos presentara una solicitud oficial para una investigación sobre las presuntas violaciones de Burisma a la ley ucraniana, si eso es lo que Estados Unidos deseaba. Una solicitud formal de Estados Unidos a los ucranianos para realizar una investigación basada en violaciones de su propia ley me pareció incorrecta, y le recomendé al embajador Volker que nos "mantuviéramos claros". Sin embargo, para averiguar los aspectos legales de la pregunta, le di el nombre de un Subprocurador General Adjunto que pensé que sería el punto de contacto adecuado para buscar una remisión de los EE. UU. Para una investigación en el extranjero.

A mediados de agosto, debido a que la asistencia de seguridad se había retenido durante más de un mes sin ninguna razón que pudiera discernir, comenzaba a temer que la política estadounidense de larga data de fuerte apoyo a Ucrania estaba cambiando. Llamé al Consejero Brechbuhl para discutir esto el 21 de agosto. Dijo que no estaba al tanto de un cambio en la política de los EE. UU. Pero que verificaría el estado de la asistencia de seguridad. Mis preocupaciones se profundizaron al día siguiente, el 22 de agosto, durante una conversación telefónica con el Sr. Morrison. Le pregunté si había habido un cambio en la política de fuerte apoyo a Ucrania, a lo que respondió, "está por verse". También me dijo durante esta llamada que "el presidente no quiere brindar ninguna ayuda". Eso fue extremadamente preocupante para mí. Como le había dicho al secretario Pompeo en mayo, si cambiara la política de fuerte apoyo a Ucrania, tendría que dimitir. Basado en mi llamada con el Sr. Morrison, me estaba preparando para hacerlo.

Pocos días después, el 27 de agosto, el embajador Bolton llegó a Kiev y se reunió con el presidente Zelenskyy. Durante su reunión, no se discutió la asistencia de seguridad; sorprendentemente, las noticias de la retención no se filtraron hasta el 29 de agosto. Yo, por otro lado, estaba muy consciente de la retención y todavía me preocupaba. Cerca del final de la visita del Embajador Bolton, pedí reunirme con él en privado, durante la cual le expresé mi seria preocupación por la denegación de la asistencia militar a Ucrania mientras los ucranianos defendían a su país de la agresión rusa. El embajador Bolton recomendó que enviara un cable en primera persona a

Secretario Pompeo directamente, transmitiendo mis preocupaciones. Escribí y transmití un cable de este tipo el 29 de agosto, describiendo la "locura" que vi en retener la ayuda militar a Ucrania en un momento en que las hostilidades todavía estaban activas en el este y cuando Rusia estaba observando de cerca para medir el nivel de apoyo estadounidense a la Gobierno de Ucrania. Le dije al secretario que no podía ni defendería esa política. Aunque no recibí una respuesta específica, escuché que poco después, el Secretario llevó el cable con él a una reunión en la Casa Blanca centrada en la asistencia de seguridad para Ucrania.

El mismo día que envié mi telegrama al Secretario, el 29 de agosto, el Sr. Yermak se comunicó conmigo y estaba muy preocupado, preguntando por la asistencia de seguridad retenida. El control que la Casa Blanca había impuesto a la asistencia acababa de hacerse público ese día en un artículo de Politico. En ese momento, me avergonzó no poder darle una explicación de por qué se retuvo.

Todavía no se me había ocurrido que la suspensión de la asistencia de seguridad pudiera estar relacionada con las "investigaciones". Eso, sin embargo, cambiaría pronto.

El 1 de septiembre, solo tres días después de mi cable al secretario Pompeo, el presidente Zelenskyy se reunió con el vicepresidente Pence en una reunión bilateral en Varsovia. El presidente Trump había planeado viajar a Varsovia, pero en el último minuto lo canceló debido al huracán Dorian. Apenas unas horas antes de la reunión Pence-Zelenskyy, me comuniqué con el Sr. Danyliuk para informarle que la demora de la asistencia de seguridad de Estados Unidos era una propuesta de "todo o nada", en el sentido de que si la Casa Blanca no levantaba la suspensión antes de la Al final del año fiscal (30 de septiembre), los fondos expirarían y Ucrania no recibiría nada. Tenía la esperanza de que en la reunión bilateral o poco después, la Casa Blanca levantara el control, pero no fue así. De hecho, recibí una lectura de la reunión Pence-Zelenskyy por teléfono del Sr. Morrison, durante la cual me dijo que el presidente Zelenskyy había abierto la reunión preguntando al vicepresidente sobre la cooperación en materia de seguridad. El vicepresidente no respondió de manera sustantiva, pero dijo que hablaría con el presidente Trump esa noche. El vicepresidente dijo que el presidente Trump quería que los europeos hicieran más para apoyar a Ucrania y que quería que los ucranianos hicieran más para luchar contra la corrupción.

Durante esta misma llamada telefónica que tuve con el Sr. Morrison, pasó a describir una conversación que el Embajador Sondland tuvo con el Sr. Yermak en Varsovia. El embajador Sondland le dijo al Sr. Yermak que el dinero de la asistencia de seguridad no llegaría hasta que el presidente Zelenskyy se comprometiera a continuar con la investigación de Burisma. Me alarmó lo que me contó el señor Morrison sobre la conversación entre Sondland y Yermak. Esta fue la primera vez que escuché que la asistencia de seguridad, no solo la reunión de la Casa Blanca, estaba condicionada a las investigaciones.

Muy preocupado, ese mismo día le envié al Embajador Sondland un mensaje de texto preguntando si "ahora [estamos] diciendo que la asistencia de seguridad y [una] reunión de WH están condicionadas a las investigaciones". El embajador Sondland respondió pidiéndome que lo llamara, lo cual hice. Durante esa llamada telefónica, el embajador Sondland me dijo que el presidente Trump le había dicho que quiere que el presidente Zelenskyy declare públicamente que Ucrania investigará Burisma y la supuesta interferencia ucraniana en las elecciones estadounidenses de 2016.

El embajador Sondland también me dijo que ahora reconocía que había cometido un error al decirles anteriormente a los funcionarios ucranianos con los que habló que una reunión de la Casa Blanca con el presidente Zelenskyy dependía de un anuncio público de las investigaciones; de hecho, el embajador Sondland dijo: " todo ”dependía de tal anuncio, incluida la asistencia de seguridad. Dijo que el presidente Trump quería al presidente Zelenskyy "en un palco público" al hacer una declaración pública sobre ordenar tales investigaciones.

En la misma llamada del 1 de septiembre, le dije al embajador Sondland que el presidente Trump debería tener más respeto por otro jefe de estado y que lo que describió no era del interés del presidente Trump ni del presidente Zelenskyy. En ese momento le pedí al embajador Sondland que rechazara la demanda del presidente Trump. El embajador Sondland se comprometió a intentarlo. También discutimos la posibilidad de que el Fiscal General de Ucrania, en lugar del Presidente Zelenskyy, hiciera una declaración sobre las investigaciones, posiblemente en coordinación con la investigación del Fiscal General Barr sobre la investigación de la interferencia en las elecciones de 2016.

Al día siguiente, 2 de septiembre, el Sr. Morrison me llamó para informarme que el Sr. Danyliuk le había pedido que fuera a su habitación de hotel en Varsovia, donde el Sr. Danyliuk expresó su preocupación por la posible pérdida del apoyo de Estados Unidos a Ucrania. En particular, el Sr. Morrison me transmitió que la incapacidad de cualquier funcionario estadounidense para responder a las preguntas explícitas de los ucranianos sobre la asistencia de seguridad les preocupaba. Estaba experimentando la misma tensión en mi trato con los ucranianos, incluso durante una reunión que tuve con el ministro de Defensa de Ucrania, Andriy Zagordnyuk, ese día.

Durante mi llamada con el Sr. Morrison el 2 de septiembre, también informé al Sr. Morrison sobre lo que el Embajador Sondland me había dicho durante nuestra llamada el día anterior.

El 5 de septiembre, recibí a los senadores Johnson y Murphy para una visita a Kiev. Durante su visita, nos reunimos con el presidente Zelenskyy. Su primera pregunta a los senadores fue sobre la asistencia de seguridad retenida. Lo que recuerdo de la reunión es que ambos senadores enfatizaron que el apoyo bipartidista a Ucrania en Washington era el activo estratégico más importante de Ucrania y que el presidente Zelenskyy no debería poner en peligro ese apoyo bipartidista al verse involucrado en la política interna de Estados Unidos.

Había estado haciendo (y sigo haciendo) este punto a todos mis contactos oficiales de Ucrania. Pero el impulso para hacer que el presidente Zelenskyy se comprometiera públicamente con las investigaciones de Burisma y la supuesta interferencia en las elecciones de 2016 mostró cómo la política exterior oficial de Estados Unidos fue socavada por los esfuerzos irregulares liderados por Giuliani.

Dos días después, el 7 de septiembre, tuve una conversación con el señor Morrison en la que describió una conversación telefónica ese mismo día entre el embajador Sondland y el presidente Trump. Morrison dijo que tuvo un "sentimiento de hundimiento" después de enterarse de esta conversación del Embajador Sondland. Según Morrison, el presidente Trump le dijo al embajador Sondland que no estaba pidiendo un "quid pro quo". Pero el presidente Trump insistió en que el presidente Zelenskyy se acerque al micrófono y diga que está abriendo investigaciones sobre Biden y la interferencia electoral de 2016, y que el presidente Zelenskyy debería querer hacerlo él mismo. Morrison dijo que le contó al embajador Bolton y a los abogados del NSC sobre esta llamada telefónica entre el presidente Trump y el embajador Sondland.

Al día siguiente, el 8 de septiembre, el Embajador Sondland y yo hablamos por teléfono. Dijo que había hablado con el presidente Trump como le había sugerido una semana antes, pero que el presidente Trump insistió en que el propio presidente Zelenskyy tenía que "aclarar las cosas y hacerlo en público". El presidente Trump dijo que no era un "quid pro quo". El embajador Sondland dijo que había hablado con el presidente Zelenskyy y con el Sr. Yermak y les dijo que, aunque esto no era un quid pro quo, si el presidente Zelenskyy no "aclaraba las cosas" en público, estaríamos en un "punto muerto". Entendí que un "punto muerto" significaba que Ucrania no recibiría la ayuda militar que tanto necesitaba. El embajador Sondland dijo que esta conversación concluyó cuando el presidente Zelenskyy acordó hacer una declaración pública en una entrevista con CNN.

Después de la llamada con el Embajador Sondland el 8 de septiembre, expresé mis fuertes reservas en un mensaje de texto al Embajador Sondland, diciendo que mi “pesadilla es que ellos [los ucranianos] dan la entrevista y no reciben la asistencia de seguridad. A los rusos les encanta. (Y renuncio) ". Hablo en serio.

Al día siguiente, les dije a los embajadores Sondland y Volker que “[e] l mensaje a los ucranianos (y rusos) que enviamos con la decisión sobre la asistencia de seguridad es clave. With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us.” I also said, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Ambassador Sondland responded about five hours later that I was “incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”

Before these text messages, during our call on September 8, Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman. 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. Ambassador Volker used the same terms several days later while we were together at the Yalta European Strategy Conference. I argued to both that the explanation made no sense: the Ukrainians did not “owe” President Trump anything, and holding up security assistance for domestic political gain was “crazy,” as I had said in my text message to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker on September 9.

Finally, I learned on September 11 that the hold had been lifted and that the security assistance would be provided.

After I learned that the security assistance was released on September 11, I personally conveyed the news to President Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Prystaiko. And I again reminded Mr. Yermak of the high strategic value of bipartisan support for Ukraine and the importance of not getting involved in other countries’ elections. My fear at the time was that since Ambassador Sondland had told me President Zelenskyy already agreed to do a CNN interview, President Zelenskyy would make a statement regarding “investigations” that would have played into domestic U.S. politics. I sought to confirm through Mr. Danyliuk that President Zelenskyy was not planning to give such an interview to the media. While Mr. Danyliuk initially confirmed that on September 12, I noticed during a meeting on the morning of September 13 at President Zelenskyy’s office that Mr. Yermak looked uncomfortable in response to the question. Again, I asked Mr. Danyliuk to confirm that there would be no CNN interview, which he did.

On September 25 at the UN General Assembly session in New York City, President Trump met President Zelenskyy face-to-face. He also released the transcript of the July 25 call. The United States gave the Ukrainians virtually no notice of the release, and they were livid. Although this was the first time I had seen the details of President Trump’s July 25 call with President Zelenskyy, in which he mentioned Vice President Biden, I had come to understand well before then that “investigations” was a term that Ambassadors Volker and Sondland used to mean matters related to the 2016 elections, and to investigations of Burisma and the Bidens.

* * * * *

I recognize that this is a rather lengthy recitation of the events of the past few months told from my vantage point in Kyiv. But I also recognize the importance of the matters your Committees are investigating, and I hope that this chronology will provide some framework for your questions.

I wish to conclude by returning to the points I made at the outset. Ukraine is important to the security of the United States. It has been attacked by Russia, which continues its aggression against Ukraine. If we believe in the principle of sovereignty of nations on which our security and the security of our friends and allies depends, we must support Ukraine in its fight against its bullying neighbor. Russian aggression cannot stand.

There are two Ukraine stories today. The first is the one we are discussing this morning and that you have been hearing for the past two weeks. It is a rancorous story about whistleblowers, Mr. Giuliani, side channels, quid pro quos, corruption, and interference in elections. In this story Ukraine is an object.

But there is another Ukraine story — a positive, bipartisan one. In this second story, Ukraine is the subject. This one is about young people in a young nation, struggling to break free of its past, hopeful that their new government will finally usher in a new Ukraine, proud of its independence from Russia, eager to join Western institutions and enjoy a more secure and prosperous life. This story describes a nation developing an inclusive, democratic nationalism, not unlike what we in America, in our best moments, feel about our diverse country — less concerned about what language we speak, what religion if any we practice, where our parents and grandparents came from; more concerned about building a new country.

Because of the strategic importance of Ukraine in our effort to create a whole, free Europe, we, through Republican and Democratic administrations over three decades, have supported Ukraine. Congress has been generous over the years with assistance funding, both civilian and military, and political support. With overwhelming bipartisan majorities, Congress has supported Ukraine with harsh sanctions on Russia for invading and occupying Ukraine. We can be proud of that support and that we have stood up to a dictator’s aggression against a democratic neighbor.

It is this second story that I would like to leave you with today.

And I am glad to answer your questions.


Top diplomat Bill Taylor reveals new details at impeachment hearing &mdash read his opening statement

In his opening statement in the first public hearings of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Ambassador Bill Taylor told lawmakers that he recently learned a member of his staff had overheard President Trump asking about "the investigations" the day after his July 25 call with the president of Ukraine. Here's how he described it:

Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26. While Ambassador Volker and I visited the front, this member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland. Ambassador Sondland met with Mr. Yermak.

Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about "the investigations." Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.

The staffer who overheard the conversation is David Holmes, a political officer in the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, three sources familiar with the matter told CBS News. Holmes is now expected to appear for a closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill on Friday. Taylor went on to say that after the call, the staffer spoke with Sondland about Mr. Trump's thoughts on Ukraine:

Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for. At the time I gave my deposition on October 22, I was not aware of this information. I am including it here for completeness. As the Committee knows, I reported this information through counsel to the State Department's Legal Adviser, as well as to counsel for both the Majority and the Minority on the Committee. It is my understanding that the Committee is following up on this matter.


Taylor says he was planning to resign if Ukraine aid not released

Bill Taylor said in his opening statement to the House committees investigating impeachment that he was preparing to resign in August over the delaying of military aid to Ukraine.

The acting US ambassador to Ukraine said that he had a conversation on August 22 with Tim Morrison of the National Security Council. Morrison indicated during the phone call that Trump was opposed to authorizing any military aid to Ukraine.

Taylor said: “As I had told Secretary [Mike] Pompeo in May, if the policy of strong support for Ukraine were to change, I would have to resign. Based on my call with Mr. Morrison, I was preparing to do so.”

In his opening statement to the House committees investigating impeachment, Bill Taylor said he was told by an official at the National Security Council that Trump had insisted the Ukrainian president himself publicly announce a probe into Joe Biden and his son.

The acting US ambassador to Ukraine said: “President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself.”

However, Taylor said that Trump had told Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, he was not seeking a “quid pro quo,” even as military aid to Ukraine hung in the balance.

At the risk of stating the obvious: if Trump demanded that the Ukrainian president make public announcements of investigations into Democrats before he would authorize the release of military aid, then his actions were the very definition of a quid pro quo.


Read the Ukraine Envoy’s Statement to Impeachment Inquiry

William B. Taylor Jr., the United States’ top diplomat in Ukraine, delivered testimony to impeachment investigators on Tuesday that described an effort by President Trump to withhold aid for Ukraine until the country’s leader agreed to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals. Read six takeaways from Mr. Taylor’s testimony.

Opening Statement of Ambassador William B. Taylor – October 22, 2019

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to appear today to provide my perspective on the events that are the subject of the Committees’ inquiry. My sole purpose is to provide the Committees with my views about the strategic importance of Ukraine to the United States as well as additional information about the incidents in question.

I have dedicated my life to serving U.S. interests at home and abroad in both military and civilian roles. My background and experience are nonpartisan and I have been honored to serve under every administration, Republican and Democratic, since 1985.

For 50 years, I have served the country, starting as a cadet at West Point, then as an infantry officer for six years, including with the 101 st Airborne Division in Vietnam then at the Department of Energy then as a member of a Senate staff then at NATO then with the State Department here and abroad — in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jerusalem, and Ukraine and more recently, as Executive Vice President of the nonpartisan United States Institute of Peace.

While I have served in many places and in different capacities, I have a particular interest in and respect for the importance of our country’s relationship with Ukraine. Our national security demands that this relationship remain strong, However, in August and September of this year, I became increasingly concerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making and by the withholding of vital security assistance for domestic political reasons. I hope my remarks today will help the Committees understand why I believed that to be the case.

At the outset, I would like to convey several key points. First, Ukraine is a strategic partner of the United States, important for the security of our country as well as Europe. Second, Ukraine is, right at this moment — while we sit in this room — and for the last five years, under armed attack from Russia. Third, the security assistance we provide is crucial to Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression, and, more importantly, sends a signal to Ukrainians — and Russians — that we are Ukraine’s reliable strategic partner. And finally, as the Committees are now aware, I said on September 9 in a message to Ambassador Gordon Sondland that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be 𠇌razy.” I believed that then, and I still believe that.

Let me now provide the Committees a chronology of the events that led to my concern.

On May 28 of this year, I met with Secretary Mike Pompeo who asked me to return to Kyiv to lead our embassy in Ukraine. It was — and is — a critical time in U.S.-Ukraine relations: Volodymyr Zelenskyy had just been elected president and Ukraine remained at war with Russia. As the summer approached, a new Ukrainian government would be seated, parliamentary elections were imminent, and the Ukrainian political trajectory would be set for the next several years.

I had served as Ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, having been nominated by George W. Bush, and, in the intervening 10 years, I have stayed engaged with Ukraine, visiting frequently since 2013 as a board member of a small Ukrainian non-governmental organization supporting good governance and reform. Across the responsibilities I have had in public service, Ukraine is special for me, and Secretary Pompeo’s offer to return as Chief of Mission was compelling. I am convinced of the profound importance of Ukraine to the security of the United States and Europe for two related reasons:

First, if Ukraine succeeds in breaking free of Russian influence, it is possible for Europe to be whole, free, democratic, and at peace. In contrast, if Russia dominates Ukraine, Russia will again become an empire, oppressing its people, and threatening its neighbors and the rest of the world.

Second, with the annexation of the Crimea in 2014 and the continued aggression in Donbas, Russia violated countless treaties, ignored all commitments, and dismissed all the principles that have kept the peace and contributed to prosperity in Europe since World War II. To restore Ukraine’s independence, Russia must leave Ukraine. This has been and should continue to be a bipartisan U.S. foreign policy goal.

When I was serving outside of government during the Obama adıninistration and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, I joined two other former ambassadors to Ukraine in urging Obama administration officials at the State Department, Defense Department, and other agencies to provide lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine in order to deter further Russian aggression. I also supported much stronger sanctions against Russia.

All to say, I cared about Ukraine’s future and the important U.S. interests there. So, when Secretary Pompeo asked me to go back to Kyiv, I wanted to say “yes.”

But it was not an easy decision. The former Ambassador, Masha Yovanovitch, had been treated poorly, caught in a web of political machinations both in Kyiv and in Washington. I feared that those problems were still present. When I talked to her about accepting the offer, however, she urged me to go, both for policy reasons and for the morale of the embassy.

Before answering the Secretary, I consulted both my wife and a respected former senior Republican official who has been a mentor to me. I will tell you that my wife, in no uncertain terms, strongly opposed the idea. The mentor counseled: if your country asks you to do something, you do it — if you can be effective.

I could be effective only if the U.S. policy of strong support for Ukraine — strong diplomatic support along with robust security, economic, and technical assistance — were to continue and if I had the backing of the Secretary of State to implement that policy. I worried about what I had heard concerning the role of Rudolph Giuliani, who had made several high-profile statements about Ukraine and U.S. policy toward the country. So during my meeting with Secretary Pompeo on May 28, I made clear to him and the others present that if U.S. policy toward Ukraine changed, he would not want me posted there and I could not stay. He assured me that the policy of strong support for Ukraine would continue and that he would support me in defending that policy.

With that understanding, I agreed to go back to Kyiv. Because I was appointed by the Secretary but not reconfirmed by the Senate, my official position was Chargé d�ires ad interim.

I returned to Kyiv on June 17, carrying the original copy of a letter President Trump signed the day after I met with the Secretary. In that letter, President Trump congratulated President Zelenskyy on his election victory and invited him to a meeting in the Oval Office. I also brought with me a framed copy of the Secretary’s declaration that the United States would never recognize the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea.

But once I arrived in Kyiv, I discovered a weird combination of encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances.


Trump thanks Republicans after GOP lawmakers stormed secure impeachment hearing

"There were audible sighs and 'ughs' (during Taylor's deposition) when that process was described," according to the source.

Download the NBC News app for the latest news on the impeachment inquiry

One member of Congress who was in the room, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said the moment made the connection clear between the withholding of aid and Trump's demand that Ukraine conduct an investigation that could implicate his political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

"He drew a very direct line in a series of events he described as being President Trump's decision to withhold funds and refuse a meeting with Zelenskiy," Wasserman Schultz said, "unless there was a public pronouncement by him of investigations of Burisma."

Burisma is the Ukrainian energy firm for which Biden's son Hunter served as a board member.

Last week, the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, acknowledged during a news conference that the aid was held up as part of a quid pro quo, although he later insisted his words had been misreported by the press.

In a July phone call with Zelenskiy, Trump asked him for a "favor" and then asked for help in investigating both the origins of the investigation into 2016 Russian election interference, as well as an energy company tied to Hunter Biden.

Taylor could be a linchpin of any impeachment case against Trump and that sentiment was realized when he delivered his opening statement to the committee on Tuesday. The gravity of the moment and the realization of what is at stake in the impeachment probe was palpable in the room, according to multiple sources who were in attendance.

At one point, "one prominent (Republican) member who will go nameless turned to an aide and said, 'This isn't good,'" a person in the room said.


It's Not The Deep State That Threatens Trump. It's The State.

S ince he took office, President Donald Trump has frequently claimed a &ldquodeep state&rdquo is trying to sabotage his presidency, denouncing a supposed corrupt conspiracy in the U.S. government that he says is working in the shadows to undermine him. But ultimately, Articles of Impeachment against Trump may be drafted on the testimony of career bureaucrats, relying on routine skills built over decades of public service. It&rsquos their credibility, expertise, and meticulous records that may prove the most damaging to a president who has long disparaged such discipline.

That dynamic was on display again on Tuesday, when the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine defied the Trump administration&rsquos orders and testified before the three congressional committees leading the impeachment probe. Charge d&rsquoaffaires Bill Taylor&rsquos testimony made “the most compelling case yet” that the White House had withheld military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponents, a person who was present for his deposition told TIME.

Lawmakers coming out of the almost ten-hour hearing said that Taylor filled in the picture drawn by other career officials, including former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and Trump&rsquos former top White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill. Taken together, the bureaucrats have provided damning context to what Trump meant when he told Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, &ldquoI would like you to do us a favor.&rdquo

Testifying behind closed doors, Taylor tied the president directly to efforts to make military aid to Ukraine contingent on the probes Trump sought for his own political gain. Taylor said he was told that Trump would withhold the aid until the country&rsquos leaders publicly announced investigations into Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and into unsubstantiated allegations of Ukrainian collusion with Democrats in the 2016 election, according to a copy of his 15-page opening statement obtained by TIME. Taylor called it &ldquocrazy&rdquo and &ldquoweird,&rdquo and described in detail his impression of the &ldquoirregular, informal channels&rdquo used by Trump&rsquos personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Taylor, who is still employed by the State Department, used extensive personal notes but did not share them with the committees. As a career foreign service officer and former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, noted on Twitter, keeping careful records is second nature to diplomats &ldquobecause we worried foreign interlocutors might misrepresent conversations.&rdquo Taylor’s previous experience as ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009 added to his credibility.

Not all the witnesses who have come before the committee have engendered respect from Democrats. Taylor&rsquos low-key style contrasted with Trump appointees with little to no experience, like E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, whose testimony he seemed to contradict. In his opening statement, Taylor said that Sondland &ldquotried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman. 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.&rdquo Taylor told lawmakers that argument &ldquomade no sense,&rdquo because the Ukrainians did not &ldquoowe&rdquo Trump anything and holding up the aid was against U.S. national security interests.

Where Sondland frequently said he couldn’t remember much of his work in Ukraine, Taylor recalled events with clarity. &ldquoThere were many things that Ambassador Sondland didn&rsquot remember that Ambassador Taylor remembered in excruciating detail,&rdquo Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz agreed. &ldquoIt was less about protecting himself and more about just a lifelong habit so he could recall with accuracy his career,&rdquo Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, said.

By early afternoon, it was clear that Tuesday&rsquos testimony was &ldquoturning out to be more important than some of us expected,” a person who was present for his deposition told TIME. Taylor was not only supporting what other witnesses had said, but also laying out how the administration, at the president’s direction, used military aid to Ukraine that Congress had approved as leverage to extract a partisan political favor “relative not only to 2016, but more important to 2020,&rdquo they said.

Although Taylor and other witnesses have worked for both Republican and Democratic administrations, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham condemned their testimony as &ldquoa coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution.&rdquo

But other normally vocal defenders of the president were notably low-key when approached by reporters about Taylor&rsquos testimony. Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the oversight committee, said the diplomat&rsquos answers helped the President but declined to say how.


Read the Full Transcript

Judy Woodruff:

The congressional impeachment inquiry now has critical new evidence tying President Trump to possible abuse of power. It came today from the man running the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.

White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage.

Yamiche Alcindor:

A new day, a new startling witness in the growing impeachment inquiry. This time, it was acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor.

Taylor delivered a 15-page opening statement that stunned the room. Taylor said Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, had been told by President Trump &mdash quote &mdash "that he wasn't asking for a quid pro quo, but President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference."

Freshman Democrat Andy Levin of Michigan called Taylor's testimony disturbing.

Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich.:

All I have to say is that, in my 10 short months in Congress, it's not even noon, right, and this is the &mdash my most disturbing day in Congress.

Yamiche Alcindor:

Taylor had been ambassador to Ukraine a decade ago. He agreed to fill in again in June, after Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was abruptly removed.

In text messages to Sondland, Taylor voiced his concerns. He called it &mdash quote &mdash "crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." Sondland then replied: "The president has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo's of any kind" and &mdash quote &mdash "I suggest we stop the back and forth by text."

Today, House Democrats said those messages and Taylor's deposition are central to their impeachment inquiry. Meanwhile, there was bipartisan backlash to President Trump comparing impeachment to lynching.

Early today, President Trump tweeted that &mdash quote &mdash "All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here, a lynching."

The blowback came quickly. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn:

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.:

Well, I think to have the president classify a constitutional remedy to an unlawful, egregious act such as lynching is beneath the dignity of the office of president of the United States.

Yamiche Alcindor:

Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, also spoke out.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.:

There is no question that the impeachment process is the closest thing of a political death row trial, so I get his absolute rejection of the process. I wouldn't use the word lynching.

Yamiche Alcindor:

GOP leaders like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell distanced themselves from the president's language.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

Given the history in our country, I wouldn't compare this to a lynching.

Yamiche Alcindor:

But South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of President Trump, defended him.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.:

This is a lynching in every sense. This is un-American.

Yamiche Alcindor:

And White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said this:

Hogan Gidley:

He's not comparing himself to those dark times. Whether you're white, black, brown, red, it doesn't matter. His policies have lifted all the boats in this country, and that is the story.

Yamiche Alcindor:

All this comes as reports suggest Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungary's far-right leader Viktor Orban negatively influenced President Trump's view of Ukraine. Both countries view Ukraine as hostile to their own interests.

Judy Woodruff:

And Yamiche joins me now, even as this story continues to develop.

So, Yamiche, it's pretty clear that Ambassador Taylor, what he had to say startled lawmakers in what he had to say about the administration, in exchange for information about what happened in 2016 and going forward about Joe Biden, that the ambassador was saying the administration clearly withheld military aid.

But what more did we learn about what he had to say today?

Yamiche Alcindor:

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, came to Capitol Hill and delivered stunning testimony.

I spoke to several people who were in the room, and they told me that there were audible gasps and that people were really sighing and really surprised by the fact that Bill Taylor was laying out what he believes was a pressure campaign by President Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to really pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats for his own political gain.

I want to walk through some of that 15-page opening statement, because it was really stunning, even as Bill Taylor spoke for hours.

So, some of the things he said was, Ambassador Sondland &mdash now, he is the E.U. ambassador &mdash the ambassador to the European Union &mdash said that he had talked to President Zelensky and Mr. Yermak &mdash now, that's a top aide to President Zelensky &mdash and told them that although there wasn't a quid pro quo, if President Zelensky didn't clear things up in public, we would be at a &mdash quote &mdash "stalemate. I understood stalemate to mean that Ukraine wouldn't receive much needed military assistance."

He went on to say that: "Everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance."

So, what you saw there was Bill Taylor really walking lawmakers through what he felt was a pressure campaign to get Ukraine to do things to benefit President Trump politically.

And it's also stunning to put in that statement that Bill Taylor said he pushed back on Ambassador Gordon Sondland and said, you know, why is President Trump doing this? It seems crazy. And Gordon Sondland told him, well, President Trump is a businessman, and that he feels as though he needs to get what's owed to him before he signs.

And Bill Taylor essentially said, well, President Trump isn't really owed anything from Ukraine. And Gordon Sondland basically doubled down and said the president needed to get what he wanted to get before this military aid would go to Ukraine.

Judy Woodruff:

So, Yamiche, given that, how does this fit &mdash how did &mdash what Ambassador Taylor had to say, how does this fit into the overall impeachment inquiry at this point?

Yamiche Alcindor:

Democrats say that Bill Taylor is now a central part of the impeachment inquiry.

They say that his testimony is really evidence that President Trump was engaged in this quid pro quo. Now, a number of lawmakers came out praising Bill Taylor for his words.

I want to also, though, explain that Bill Taylor talked specifically about the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Here's what he said.

He said his involvement &mdash quote &mdash "shows how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Mr. Giuliani."

So, essentially, he's saying Mr. Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, his work was intertwined, and that that was troubling to him.

That dovetails and really goes in with what all the other people have been saying to lawmakers that they have come to Capitol Hill. The ambassador to Ukraine, the former ambassador to Ukraine, that was removed said the same thing.

And really what we're seeing is a clearer and clearer picture of the fact that Rudy Giuliani was doing the president's bidding. But there are lawmakers that say that this is really just the beginning of this and that Bill Taylor is going to be possibly leading to Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, being called back to Congress.

They're also saying that his testimony might accelerate the impeachment inquiry. So we are going to have to really see how these developments continue, as Bill Taylor might just be the beginning of other people being called back to Congress.

Judy Woodruff:

And, separately, Yamiche, you did refer and you were reporting on the reaction to the president comparing this inquiry to a lynching.

We heard what some members of Congress have had to say today about that. But I know you have been talking to the White House.

How does this &mdash what does this say about how they view this impeachment inquiry and how they're dealing with it?

Yamiche Alcindor:

President Trump understands what a lynching is.

And he rally was trying the use the strongest language that he felt possible to explain the fact that he feels as though he's being wronged by this impeachment inquiry.

The White House is saying that he didn't mean to compare himself to the mass murder of African-Americans, which is what lynching refers to. But, that said, there are a lot of people, including members of the president's own party, who are really up in arms with his use of the language of lynching.

And we should remain &mdash or we should explain to people that lynching is something that happened between 1882 and 1958, according to the NAACP, and about 4,700 Americans were lynched, and the vast majority of them were African-Americans.

So there are people who are still alive whose family members were lynched who were killed just because they were African-American. So, this is really painful history that President Trump was talking about.

But, that being said, there are Democrats who are really saying that this is more of the same from President Trump, that he's been someone who has been using, they consider, racist language and other things that have really been making race relations in this country harder and harder and the divisions deeper.

But there are Republicans who say that the president should feel wronged because they feel as though the impeachment inquiry is unfair.

Judy Woodruff:

So interesting to hear the different reactions from the two Republican U.S. senators from South Carolina, Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, to the president's comments.

Yamiche Alcindor, reporting for us from the Capitol today, thank you, Yamiche.


'Incredibly damaging to the president': Ambassador William Taylor's opening statement leaves representatives gasping and shaken

The testimony of William Taylor, who has been acting as head of the diplomatic mission to Ukraine since Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was removed on the basis of conspiracy theories pushed by Rudy Giuliani, has been considered one of the most critical moments for the impeachment inquiry. It wasn’t until Tuesday morning that it became known that the State Department was trying to prevent Taylor from appearing, but, as with Yovanovitch, a last-minute subpoena was issued, and Taylor has appeared. Early reports from the closed-door hearing indicate that Taylor has not disappointed. His 15-page opening statement (not yet available) has reportedly generated “sighs and gasps” within the chamber.

    described Taylor’s testimony as “incredibly damaging to the president.” This was also based on the opening statement in advance of the question-and-answer period.
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz emerged from the chamber following the opening statements to say, “I do not know how you would listen to today's testimony by the ambassador, Ambassador Taylor, and draw any other conclusion, except that the President abused his power.”
  • Rep. Andy Levin emerged at a break to say, "This is my most disturbing day in Congress so far, very troubling."
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell, speaking on CNN, stated, “The arrows continue to point in one direction,” supporting the original whistleblower complaint.
  • The reason for “sighs and gasps” in the hearing is reported to be simply the extent of the efforts to “tie an investigation of Burisma and 2016 election” to military aid.

In texts exchanged with other members of Trump’s European team, Taylor expressed concerns about Ukraine being “used as an instrument” for the 2020 election, and said, “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” If Taylor hasn’t already been asked about the phone conversations he had before and after that text message … he will be.


6. Demands were made for secrecy and career officials, including Taylor, were left in the dark about key events.

I sensed something odd when Ambassador Sondland told me on June 28 that he did not wish to include most of the regular interagency participants in a call planned with President Zelensky later that day. Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Volker, Secretary [Rick] Perry, and I were on this call, dialing in from different locations. However, Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelensky to the call.

On July 25, President Trump and President Zelensky had the long-awaited phone conversation. Strangely, even though I was Chief of Mission and was scheduled to meet with President Zelensky along with Ambassador Volker the following day, I received no readout of the call from the White House. The Ukrainian government issued a short, cryptic summary.


WASHINGTON — The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, told members of Congress Tuesday that President Donald Trump directed officials to tie foreign aid to Ukraine to demands that the country open an investigation into the Biden family and the 2016 election, a potentially serious blow to Trump's repeated denials of a quid pro quo.

According to a copy of his opening statement provided to NBC News, Taylor said that E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland told him that while Trump was not requesting a "quid pro quo," he insisted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy publicly announce investigations into the Bidens and matters relating to the 2016 presidential election.

Members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees questioned Taylor about conversations he had with other American diplomats about the Trump administration's policy toward Ukraine.

Taylor told the committees that "it was becoming clear" to Taylor as early as July that nearly $400 million of military aid was being withheld on the condition that Zelenskiy commit to investigating the Burisma energy company as well as a conspiracy theory about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

Taylor said that Sondland told him in September that "everything," meaning military aid and a meeting with Trump in Washington, was dependent on Zelenskiy making a public statement committing to order the investigations.

Sondland "said that President Trump wanted President Zelenskiy in 'a public box' by making a public statement about ordering such investigations," Taylor testified.

Taylor said his concerns grew throughout the summer. He said he raised concerns to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and considered resigning. He also raised objections to officials at the National Security Counsel at the White House, Taylor testified.

In his 15-page opening statement, Taylor also charged that much of the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine circumvented normal diplomatic channels. Taylor said that when he took over the position, "I found a confusing and unusual arrangement for making U.S. policy towards Ukraine. There appeared to be two channels of U.S. policy-making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular."

"The push to make President Zelenskiy publicly commit to investigations of Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by [Trump's personal lawyer Rudy] Giuliani," Taylor added later.

Democrats emerging from the day-long deposition Tuesday, which began at 9:30 a.m. and lasted more than nine hours, said that Taylor’s testimony offered a "disturbing" portrayal of Trump's Ukraine dealings. Members described Taylor's testimony as crucial, saying that he not only filled in many of the holes created by previous testimony and depositions but also drew a "direct line" between the president's demand for an investigation by the Ukrainians into his political rivals and U.S. military aid.

In his testimony Taylor said he was told that the president insisted there was no quid pro quo, but Taylor painted a picture of a series of events that would be defined as such.

"I do not know how you would listen to today's testimony by the ambassador, Ambassador Taylor, and draw any other conclusion, except that the president abused his power and withheld foreign aid," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. "It's a direct line."

Speaking to reporters after hearing Taylor’s testimony, Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, called the diplomat’s remarks "shocking" and said "it was so clear that this was what was going to be required for foreign assistance which is just so egregious."

Two Democrats also said that Taylor took "meticulous" personal notes but those have not yet been handed over to the committee.

After departing the closed-door deposition a few hours in, freshman Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., told reporters that it was his "most disturbing day in the Congress so far . very troubling."

Republicans said little, or played down Taylor’s testimony. "Nothing new here," Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina said.

"President Trump has done nothing wrong — this is a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution," said White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham. "There was no quid pro quo. Today was just more triple hearsay and selective leaks from the Democrats’ politically motivated, closed-door, secretive hearings."


Ver el vídeo: De las redes a cumplir sueños: la historia de cómo conocí a Taylor Swift, por Josefina Mösle