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Analysis: Trump, White House aides show some restraint at impeachment hearings

John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

Only there was. And most of it came from Taylor.

He told the committee that diplomats concluded Trump told aides he was much more focused on Zelenskiy launching the probes of Democrats he wanted than their efforts to work with what they determined was a new Eastern European leader sincere about weeding out corruption. Trump has claimed in recent weeks that those broader corruption issues were his main concern in holding up a nearly $400 million military aid package Zelenskiy wanted for his country's conflict with Russia.

The acting ambassador also described a "regular" policy process within the Trump administration to set and implement Ukraine policies, as well as an "irregular" one run by Giuliani. The latter, Taylor said, hindered what he described as career diplomats' efforts to conduct foreign policy as it had been conducted under previous presidents, Republican and Democratic.

What's more, Taylor explained in clear terms why some U.S. officials and House Democrats view Trump's alleged request that Zelenskiy comply as a major problem.

"It's one thing to leverage a meeting in the White House," Taylor told lawmakers. "It's another thing to leverage the military aid," noting it was meant for an American ally "at war" with Russia. Holding up the aid package in the alleged pursuit of Trump's personal political benefit was "much more alarming," Taylor said.

But Kent offered several anecdotes and assessments of the Ukraine policy process.

The senior State Department official warned about some in Trump's orbit trying to "gin up politically motivated investigations," saying they were "infecting" the normal process.


Nothing about Wednesday felt normal, however, including the White House's relative silence.

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