A member of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor’s staff overheard President Donald Trump asking U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland about the progress toward a requested Ukrainian investigation, presumably into the Bidens, while Taylor and Sondland were in Ukraine in July.
Taylor also said the staffer asked Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine, and Sondland allegedly responded that the president cared more about investigations into Biden.
The alleged phone call and exchange came on July 26, one day after the now-public call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that spurred a whistleblower complaint and is now the focus of an impeachment inquiry. During that call, President Trump sought a Ukrainian investigation into CrowdStrike, Burisma, and Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
Taylor said Wednesday that he was not made aware of the staffer’s claim until last Friday, weeks after his October closed-door impeachment inquiry testimony.
Here’s what Taylor said Wednesday:
Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26. While Ambassador [Kurt] Volker and I visited the front, this 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. 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 [Rudy] Giuliani was pressing for. At the time I gave my deposition on October 22, I was not aware of this information. I am including it here for completeness.
Taylor, who was tapped as the top Ukraine diplomat under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, reiterated his previous testimony that he was concerned about an apparent understanding (although not a direct or explicit order from President Trump) that security aid to Ukraine was conditioned upon Ukraine’s willingness to investigate the Bidens.
Read Taylor’s full opening statement here.