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Diplomat Bill Taylor testifies Trump used Ukraine aid, White House meeting as leverage for probes

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor testified unequivocally Tuesday that President Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate both election interference and a company linked to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son — and was willing to hold up military aid and a White House meeting to get a public announcement from the country that the probes were underway.
In his opening remarks to House lawmakers obtained by Fox News, Taylor voiced his apparent frustration that the Trump administration was undercutting his personal policy preference for providing robust aid to Ukraine.
Among Taylor’s colorful claims were that then-national security adviser John Bolton furiously warned that a Trump phone call with Ukraine’s leader would be a “disaster,” and that Taylor nearly didn’t take the job leading Ukraine’s embassy out of concerns the U.S. wouldn’t be sufficiently helpful to Ukraine.
Republicans, however, have countered that military aid to Ukraine was released in September, and that there has been no evidence Ukrainians were aware that the aid was being withheld as part of any implicit quid pro quo. Ukrainian officials have denied that there was any undue pressure from the White House.
But Taylor went on to describe the existence of an “irregular” communications channel with Ukraine led by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, and a “weird combination of encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances” once he arrived in Kiev. The statement confirmed previous reporting of Taylor’s remarks by Fox News.
During this same phone call I had with [National Security Council aide Tim] Morrison, he went on to describe a conversation [United States E.U.] Ambassador [Gordon] Sondland had with Mr. Yermak at Warsaw,” Taylor testified, referring to a July 28 conversation. “Ambassador Sondland told [top Ukraine aide Andriy] Yermak that security assistance money would not come until President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy committed to pursue the Burisma investigation.”
Burisma Holdings is the Ukrainian natural gas company where Biden’s son Hunter was employed in a lucrative role despite no relevant expertise.
Taylor continued: “I was alarmed by what Mr. Morrison told me about the Sondland-Yermak conversation. This was the first time I had heard that the security assistance not just the White House meeting — was conditioned on the investigations.”
That same day, Taylor said, he sent Sondland a text message asking if security assistance and a White House meeting “are conditioned on investigations,” prompting Sondland to request Taylor call him. Although those texts have previously been released, the contents of Taylor’s call have been unclear.
“During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelenskyy to state publicly that Ukrain will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election,” Taylor testified.
“During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelenskyy to state publicly that Ukrain will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election,” Taylor testified.