Bill Taylor is testifying behind closed doors in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against Trump. The acting US ambassador to Ukraine said in a text last month that he thought it was “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
Trump was lambasted by many Democrats (and a much smaller number of Republicans) for comparing the impeachment probe to a “lynching.”
A new poll found that half of Americans support impeaching Trump and removing him from office, marking a 13-point increase since late April.
The blog will have plenty more coming up, so stay tuned.
Another Democratic member of the House foreign affairs committee, Andy Levin of Michigan, described Bill Taylor’s testimony as “very troubling.”
Levin said of the acting US ambassador to Ukraine’s comments: “All I have to say is that in my 10 short months in Congress – it’s not even noon, right – and this is my most disturbing day in Congress so far. Very troubling.”
Meanwhile, one of Levin’s colleagues defended Taylor’s reputation against potential smears from Trump’s allies.
The opening statement from Bill Taylor, the acting US ambassador to Ukraine, to the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry solicited “sighs and gasps,” according to a Politico reporter.
The opening statements from Maria Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, were quickly leaked to the press, so it’s likely the same will occur with Taylor’s statement.
House Democrat describes Taylor’s testimony as ‘incredibly damaging’ to Trump
Representative Ted Lieu, a Democratic member of the House foreign affairs committee, just emerged from the closed-door interview with Bill Taylor and said the acting US ambassador to Ukraine’s testimony was “incredibly damaging to the president.”
CNN reported earlier today that Taylor intended to use his testimony to fill in some of the gaps surrounding his 9 September text message, in which he said it was “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who has repeatedly criticized Trump in the past, denounced the president’s use of the term “lynching” to describe House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
Steele also chastised Lindsey Graham after the South Carolina senator echoed Trump’s use of the term and said the impeachment probe is “a lynching in every sense.”
However, Graham does not appear to be changing his stance at all, insisting that the inquiry is a “political lynching” and refusing to comment on the racist implications of Trump’s comment.
Representative Eric Swalwell, a Democratic member of the House intelligence committee, said in a tweet that Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, asked Trump at one point: “What do you want from Ukraine?”
Sondland testified in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry last week and may have shared this detail with the investigating lawmakers behind closed doors, but the transcript of his appearance has not been publicly released.
After Bill Taylor said in a text message last month that he thought it was “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Sondland replied: “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”
However, reports later emerged that Sondland only sent his “no quid pro quo” message after speaking to Trump.
White House defends Trump’s description of impeachment inquiry as ‘lynching’
A White House spokesperson defended Trump’s use of the word “lynching” to describe the impeachment inquiry by arguing that the president was not making a historical comparison.
This explanation seems highly questionable, given that the word “lynching” has almost exclusively been applied to the thousands of people (most of them African American) who were murdered in the late 19th and early 20th century.
It seems virtually impossible that Trump is unaware of this history, particularly given that the Senate passed a bill last year to make lynching a hate crime. The president has not yet signed the legislation.