Bill Taylor set to be impeachment inquiry’s first public witness
As the House impeachment inquiry progresses, Bill Taylor, acting US ambassador to Kiev, is set to become its first televised witness when the hearings go public next week, ending weeks of Republican gripes about their Democratic rivals carrying out “Soviet-style” behind-closed-doors testimony.
Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee leading the probe, said that with two days of hearings next week, Americans will have a chance to decide for themselves.
“The most important facts are largely not contested,” the California Democrat said. “Those open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves, to make their own determinations about the credibility of the witnesses, but also to learn firsthand about the facts of the president’s misconduct.”
Along with Taylor, the public will hear from former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump fired after what she and others say was a smear campaign, as well as career State Department official George Kent.
Taylor and Kent will appear on Wednesday, Yovanovitch on Friday.
A 324-page transcript of Taylor’s deposition to investigators was also released on Wednesday, in which Mr Taylor agrees a quid pro quo was in play and frets about the administration’s strategy of withholding military assistance.
Taylor, a career envoy and war veteran with 50 years of service to the US, told investigators that an “irregular channel” operated by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was set up to handle Ukraine diplomacy in the wake of the ousting of Yovanovitch and how the White House was holding up almost $400m (£311m) in aid.
This exchange with Chairman Schiff was particularly revealing:
Taylor: “That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the president committed to pursue the investigation.”
Schiff: “So if they don’t do this, they are not going to get that was your understanding?”
Taylor: “Yes, sir.”
Schiff: “Are you aware that quid pro quo literally means this for that?”
Taylor: “I am.”
The acting charges d’affaires also discussed the president’s unsuccessful and much derided proposal to buy Greenland. “It took up a lot of energy in the [National Security Council],” he lamented.
Here’s Clark Mindock’s report.