The testimony of William Taylor, who has been acting as head of the diplomatic mission to Ukraine since Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was removed on the basis of conspiracy theories pushed by Rudy Giuliani, has been considered one of the most critical moments for the impeachment inquiry. It wasn’t until Tuesday morning that it became known that the State Department was trying to prevent Taylor from appearing, but, as with Yovanovitch, a last-minute subpoena was issued, and Taylor has appeared. Early reports from the closed-door hearing indicate that Taylor has not disappointed. His 15-page opening statement (not yet available) has reportedly generated “sighs and gasps” within the chamber.
- Rep. Ted Lieu described Taylor’s testimony as “incredibly damaging to the president.” This was also based on the opening statement in advance of the question-and-answer period.
- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz emerged from the chamber following the opening statements to say, “I do not know how you would listen to today's testimony by the ambassador, Ambassador Taylor, and draw any other conclusion, except that the President abused his power.”
- Rep. Andy Levin emerged at a break to say, "This is my most disturbing day in Congress so far, very troubling."
- Rep. Eric Swalwell, speaking on CNN, stated, “The arrows continue to point in one direction,” supporting the original whistleblower complaint.
- The reason for “sighs and gasps” in the hearing is reported to be simply the extent of the efforts to “tie an investigation of Burisma and 2016 election” to military aid.
In texts exchanged with other members of Trump’s European team, Taylor expressed concerns about Ukraine being “used as an instrument” for the 2020 election, and said, “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” If Taylor hasn’t already been asked about the phone conversations he had before and after that text message … he will be.