The Trump impeachment hearings are set to get underway at 10 am ET, with former US Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, the top diplomat to that country at the time that Giuliani and others were attempting to pressure Ukraine to conduct the investigations against the Bidens. The hearing will be overseen by House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA). Click HERE to open this post in a new window.
Some background: Taylor was told that Trump was seeking the investigations in exchange for U.S. aid. Deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent is also testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. Kent can corroborate events described by Taylor because he was a direct witness to them. Kent saw Mike Pompeo deliver a cable to Trump that Taylor had sent expressing unease with demands that Ukraine conduct investigations of Trump’s political rivals in exchange for U.S. aid.
CNN reports: “Beyond his handwritten notes, Taylor made a contemporaneous electronic record. He texted to European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland, ‘Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?’ prompting Sondland’s infamous two-word response: ‘Call me.’ Later, Taylor reiterated by text his view on the impropriety of the administration’s effort to pressure Ukraine: ‘As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.’ Given these texts, there is no way to argue credibly that Taylor fabricated or embellished his concerns after the fact. Finally, Taylor’s testimony goes to the core of the Ukraine scandal, perfectly elucidating why the conduct of Trump and others around him was improper.” More at CNN.
Writes Slate: “Taylor was apparently the first witness to allege that Trump was tying the release of aid money to the opening of politically advantageous investigations as part of a quid pro quo. His contemporaneous notes about his conversations with other officials, along with the now-public text chains, are crucial in rebutting Trump and his defenders as they still vigorously deny this aspect of the conspiracy. His testimony is by far the most important of the week, because bribery is a federal crime and the second item listed when the Founders wrote out the Constitution’s impeachable offenses.”
Slate adds: “After Taylor took the dramatic step of sending an Aug. 29 cable to Pompeo expressing his unease with the withholding of military aid, Kent informed Taylor that Pompeo had personally brought the cable into a meeting with Trump. He also testified that Taylor told him of his concerns regarding a possible quid pro quo deal to target Biden. Finally, he was told of the accounts of other witnesses as well.”