A key Democratic witness against Trump admitted in congressional testimony last month that he was not part of the July 25 phone call between the U.S. and Ukrainian presidents, that he didn’t see a transcript or readout of it until late September when it was declassified and released, and that he has never even spoken to President Donald Trump.
William Taylor, the charge d’affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, told lawmakers in secret testimony two weeks ago that his opinions about an alleged quid pro quo demanded by Trump were formed largely from conversations with anti-Trump staffers within the diplomatic bureaucracy.
“[Y]ou’ve never spoken to Mr. [Rudy] Giuliani?” Taylor was asked.
“No, no,” he replied.
“Has anyone ever asked you to speak to Mr. Giuliani?”
“No,” Taylor said.
“And if I may, have you spoken to the president of the United States?” Taylor was asked.
“I have not,” he said.
“You had no communications with the president of the United States?”
“Correct,” Taylor said.
He also admitted he had never spoken to Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s chief of staff.
When asked who exactly he had spoken to about the brouhaha, Taylor confirmed that his only contacts about the matter were with John Bolton, the former national security adviser who was fired by Trump, Fiona Hill, Alexander Vindman, and Tim Morrison. Both Hill and Vindman are rumored to have been sources for the so-called whistleblower who filed a complaint against Trump in August.
Taylor also testified that his knowledge of the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymr Zelensky wasn’t first-hand knowledge.
“And this isn’t firsthand. It’s not secondhand. It’s not thirdhand,” Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., said to Taylor. “But if I understand this correctly, you’re telling us that Tim Morrison told you that Ambassador Sondland told him that the president told Ambassador Sondland that Zelensky would have to open an investigation into Biden?”
“That’s correct,” Taylor admitted.
Zeldin noted that the only reference to Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden in Taylor’s opening statement stemmed from that convoluted game of telephone. The New York lawmaker hammered Taylor for relying on third-hand information about the state of mind of an elected official to whom he had never spoken.
“So do you have any other source that the president’s goal in making this request was anything other than The New York Times?” Zeldin asked.
“I have not talked to the president,” Taylor said. “I have no other information from what the president was thinking.”
Under questioning from Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, Taylor also testified that the Ukrainian government wasn’t aware U.S. military funding had been temporarily suspended until late August, and then only after the information was leaked to the news media, meaning an alleged quid pro quo would have been impossible.
“So, if nobody in the Ukrainian government is aware of a military hold at the time of the Trump-Zelensky call, then, as a matter of law and as a matter of fact, there can be no quid pro quo, based on military aid,” Ratcliffe, a former federal prosecutor, said. “I just want to be real clear that, again, as of July 25th, you have no knowledge of a quid pro quo involving military aid.”
“July 25th is a week after the hold was put on the security assistance,” Taylor testified. “And July 25th, they had a conversation between the two presidents, where it was not discussed.”
“And to your knowledge, nobody in the Ukrainian government was aware of the hold?” Ratcliffe asked.
“That is correct,” Taylor responded.
Taylor also testified that he didn’t see any official readout of the July 25 phone call until it was declassified and released by Trump in late September.
“I did not see any official readout of the call until it was publicly released on September 25th,” he said.