Taylor’s Damning Testimony
The top American diplomat in Ukraine on Tuesday gave impeachment investigators a vivid and impassioned account of how multiple senior administration officials told him that President Trump blocked security aid to Ukraine and refused to meet the country’s leader until he agreed to publicly pledge to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.
In testimony to impeachment investigators delivered in defiance of State Department orders, the diplomat, William B. Taylor Jr., sketched out in remarkable detail a quid pro quo pressure campaign on Ukraine that Mr. Trump and his allies have long denied. He said the president sought to condition the entire United States relationship with Ukraine — including a $391 million aid package whose delay put Ukrainian lives in danger — on a promise that the country would publicly investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family.
His account implicated Mr. Trump, citing multiple sources inside the government. Those include a budget official who said during a secure National Security Council conference call in July that she had been instructed not to approve the security assistance for Ukraine, and that, Mr. Taylor said, “the directive had come from the president.”
In a regular NSC secure video-conference call on July 18, I heard a staff person from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) say that there was a hold on security assistance to Ukraine but could not say why. Toward the end of an otherwise normal meeting, a voice on the call — the person was off-screen — said that she was from OMB and that her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending of security assistance for Ukraine until further notice. I and others sat in astonishment — the Ukrainians were fighting the Russians and counted on not only the training and weapons, but also the assurance of U.S. support. All that the OMB staff person said was that the directive had come from the President to the Chief of Staff to OMB. In an instant, I realized that one of the key pillars of our strong support for Ukraine was threatened. The irregular policy channel was running contrary to the goals of longstanding U.S. policy.
I hope you’ll read the full statement. It reads like the testimony of an honest man pushed to the brink. Whether or not you agree with US policy on Ukraine, this is a shocking behind-the-scenes account of the total hash Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani have made of US foreign policy towards that country. If what Taylor testified is true, then they corrupted our foreign policy. Trump certainly demanded a quid pro quo, just like Mick Mulvaney said he did. Leaving aside the morality and legality of that act, you have to read the full Taylor statement — seriously — to appreciate the impossible position this White House puts US diplomats, foreign policy, and national security staffers in. We cannot run a government like this. We cannot have Rudy Giuliani running a shadow foreign policy.
To me, the most amazing thing about this debacle is how stupid and unnecessary it is. Donald Trump won the damn 2016 election! And yet, he is so obsessed with it that he has risked the fate of Ukraine, the reputation of the United States, and his own presidency on trying to strongarm the Ukrainian president to … investigate the Democrats’ possible Ukrainian connection to an election that he won. That, and to put Joe Biden in a bad position in 2020.
What a waste. A waste of a presidency. A waste of a world-historic opportunity to change things for the better. He threw it all away.
The Democratic House is going to impeach this clown. Mitch McConnell knows that. Trump will have put the Senate Republicans in a terrible position. And for what? When you consider what’s at stake for the Right if the Democrats win the White House, especially given that odds are improving that the Democrats will also take the Senate — well, it’s infuriating.