In his opening statement, Ambassador William Taylor included new information that directly implicates Donald Trump in additional demands for an investigation in Ukraine into a political rival. According to Taylor, he learned just last Friday of a call that took place one day after Trump’s infamous call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The second phone call took place between Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Trump. On the call, Trump again asked about investigations—and the conversation was overheard by a member of Taylor’s staff.
This information does not appear to have come up in previous testimony, and directly undercuts the defense mounted by Republicans that seems to suggest everything witnesses are testifying to is second- or third-hand, a claim that seems designed to pin the blame for actions in Ukraine on Sondland and Rudy Giuliani while claiming that no one can directly implicate Trump.
According to Taylor,
The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about “the investigations.” Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. …
Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.
This information appears to be new to the representatives in the room, and this previously unreported call is likely to be the subject of additional questions.
Transcripts and video of Ambassador Taylor’s testimony is below.
AMBASSADOR BILL TAYLOR:
Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26. While Ambassador Volker and I visited the front, a member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland. Ambassador Sondland met with Mr. Yermak.
Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. A member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.
Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for. At the time I gave my deposition on October 22nd, I was not aware of this information. I’ve included it here for completeness as the committee knows. I reported this information through counsel to the State Department’s legal advisor, as well as to counsel for both the majority and the minority of this committee.