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Ukraine: what we’ve learned from testimony so far

Here’s what we know so far.

# Quid pro quo 1

**Military aid would only be forthcoming if Ukraine opened an investigation into Trump’s political rival.**

* This was in the publicly released [opening statement](https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/read-ambassador-william-taylors-full-opening-statement) by William B. Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine.
* Confirmed by testimony from WH aide Tim Morrison
* Confirmed by testimony from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who personally conveyed the quid pro quo.

# Quid pro quo 2

**A meeting with Trump would only be forthcoming if Ukraine opened an investigation into Trump’s political rival.**

>Q: On page 5 of your testimony, in the third paragraph, you say: “But during my subsequent communications with Ambassador [Kurt] Volker and Sondland, they relayed to me that the President, quote, “wanted to hear from Zelensky,” unquote, “before scheduling the meeting in the Oval Office. It was not clear to me what this meant.” Now, I take it, ambassador, you used that word “before” deliberately — that is, they wanted to hear from Zelensky before they would schedule this meeting. Is that right?
>
>TAYLOR: That is correct.

Taylor was further asked whether “when you talk about ‘conditioned,’ did you mean that if they didn’t do this — the investigations — they weren’t going to get that, the meeting and the military assistance?”

“That was my clear understanding,” Taylor said.

# It was never about corruption; it was always about Biden

>Q: So is it your testimony that you understood that Rudy Giuliani’s desire for the Ukrainian government to investigate Burisma had to do with potential money laundering or other criminal conduct by the company itself, and not in connection to either Joe or Hunter Biden?
>
>VOLKER: No. I believe that Giuliani was interested in Biden, Vice President Biden’s son Biden [sic], and I had pushed back on that, and I was maintaining that distinction.
>
>Q: So you were maintaining that distinction, because you understood that that whole theory had been debunked and there was no evidence to support it, right?
>
>VOLKER: Yes.

>SCHIFF: [T]hose two cases you mentioned, the Burisma and the Bidens and the 2016 election, those were both individual investigations that were sought by Mr. Giuliani because he believed it would help his client, the President of the United States, right?
>
>TAYLOR: That’s my understanding.

Taylor said Trump also wanted Kyiv to investigate a long-debunked 2016 election conspiracy theory: that a DNC server was whisked away to Ukraine to hide the fact that that country interfered in the vote, not Russia.

# Giuliani, meet the underside of the Trump bus

Volker and Sondland seem to be trying not to implicate Trump, instead [aggressively throwing Giuliani under the bus](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/11/06/is-it-rudy-giulianis-turn-go-under-bus/?tid=lk_inline_manual_18).

Taylor, too, stops short of directly implicating Trump, saying he doesn’t “know what was in the president’s mind”.

>REP. LEE ZELDIN (R-N.Y.): So where was this condition coming from if you’re not sure if it was coming from the President?
>
>TAYLOR: I think it was coming from Mr. Giuliani.
>
>ZELDIN: But not from the president?
>
>TAYLOR: I don’t know.

# The Bolton plot thickens

In his opening statement Taylor says Bolton told him to send a first-person cable to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stating his concerns about the military aid being withheld.

Taylor says Bolton went further:

* Bolton “indicated that he was very sympathetic” to Taylor’s concerns;
* Bolton “was also trying, with [Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper] and [CIA director Gina Haspel], to get this decision reversed.”
* Bolton warned against the [July 25 call](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/25/rough-transcript-trumps-call-with-ukraines-president-annotated/?sdseew#annotations:18113044&tid=lk_inline_manual_34) between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky, because he “thought it was going to be a disaster.”

“He thought that there could be some talk of investigations or worse on the call,” Taylor said. “Turned out he was right.

# Taylor was in both the official and unofficial diplomatic channels

Taylor’s next testimony, on November 13, will be something to see.

He [was in the regular channel of diplomacy *and* the irregular one](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/11/06/why-bill-taylor-is-positioned-present-damning-case-against-trump-when-he-goes-public/), and had access to all the key players: high-level officials at the National Security Council, in Ukraine’s presidential office and two of Trump’s “three amigos”

He also kept what one House impeachment investigator said was “incredibly detailed” documentation.

“[I] always kept careful notes, and I keep a little notebook where I take notes on conversations, in particular when I’m not in the office.”

Stay tuned.

Sources:

* [Washington Post](https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/11/06/big-takeaways-bill-taylors-full-transcript/) (paywall)
* [MSN (same article, no paywall)](https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/3-big-takeaways-from-bill-taylors-full-transcript/ar-AAJXz0N)
* [Vox](https://www.vox.com/2019/11/6/20952155/william-taylor-testimony-full-impeachment-ukraine)
* [Taylor’s opening statement](https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/read-ambassador-william-taylors-full-opening-statement)

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