Ukraine Envoy Testified That Trump Tied U.S. Military Aid To Investigations
The acting ambassador to Ukraine testified on Tuesday that he was told a release of U.S. military aid to the country was dependent on Ukraine’s public declaration that it would investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 election, according to The Washington Post.
William Taylor testified behind closed doors as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry into whether President Donald Trump dangled military aid in front of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in order to secure investigations for his personal political gain.
“Upon arriving in Kyiv last spring he became alarmed by secondary diplomatic channels involving U.S. officials that he called ‘weird,’” The Post reported, and Taylor also said he maintains that it was “crazy” for Trump to tie aid to the investigations.
Taylor told Congress that Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, informed him that the president wanted assurances of investigations.
“During that phone call, Amb. Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President [Volodymyr] Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election,” he said in his opening statement.
Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, previously sat on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company.
Taylor went on to say that Sondland told him both a meeting with Trump and U.S. military aid were contingent on the investigations.
“Amb. Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with President Zelensky was dependent on a public announcement of investigations — in fact, Amb. Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance,’” he told lawmakers. “He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.”
“It was just the most damning testimony I’ve heard,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) told The Post. “He drew a very specific direct line from President Trump to the withholding of foreign aid and the refusal of a meeting, directly related to both insisting on Zelensky publicly say that he’ll have an investigation, that they will investigate.”