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Democrats in impeachment inquiry 'astonished' by latest testimony of key US diplomat

Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine provided House investigators Tuesday with what some lawmakers described as the most detailed and shocking account they've yet heard regarding President Donald Trump's attempt to pressure Ukraine to help investigate his political enemies, according to Democrats who left the secured hearing room.

"It was the most thorough account we had so far of the events we've been investigating," said Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J. "It resolved any remaining doubts I have had."

Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif., described audible gasps from lawmakers as William B. Taylor shared his 15-page opening statement. The statement itself has not been released but it was described by lawmakers as thorough and based on contemporaneous notes he took.

He "astonished all of us" with his opening statement, Rouda said.

Another lawmaker described it as the most disturbing day in his 10-month congressional career.

Lawmakers refused to detail the content of Taylor's testimony, citing rules that testimony is not supposed to be shared outside of the hearing room below the U.S. Capitol building where depositions in the House's impeachment inquiry are being held. Taylor's testimony began at 9:30 a.m. Eastern and was expected to last all day.

 

Taylor, who came out of retirement to lead the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, has already provided Democrats with what they consider some of the most damning evidence that Trump was engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine to help his reelection campaign.

Taylor and the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, exchanged text messages in July in which Taylor expressed concern about whether a delay in sending congressionally approved aid to Ukraine was linked to Trump's demand that the new Ukrainian government open an investigation into whether that nation interfered in the 2016 election.

"As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Taylor wrote in a text message.

About four hours later, Sondland texted Taylor that Trump "has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind."

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