House investigators on Wednesday released a transcript of the private testimony Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, provided to lawmakers as part of their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Taylor, considered by House Democrats to be a key witness in their investigation, suggested the White House pushed a quid pro quo in its dealings with Ukraine during his closed-door session before Congress on Oct. 22.
Trump has denied that he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, for political reasons. The alleged pressure campaign, as outlined in a whistleblower complaint filed by a U.S. intelligence official in August, is the subject of the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry.
“Ambassador Taylor’s testimony reveals how, through a shadow foreign policy channel, Trump withheld military assistance and a White House meeting from Ukraine until Ukrainian officials agreed to announce investigations to help Trump politically,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tweeted Wednesday.
In his testimony, Taylor said it was his “clear understanding” that the U.S. would not release military aid to Ukraine until Zelensky committed to pursuing an investigation into Biden.
Taylor asaid he was concerned when Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, moved to cut out regular interagency participants from the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky. He said Sondland had “wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring” the call.
In text messages released by House Democrats last month, Taylor described Trump’s apparent attempt to leverage military aid to Ukraine in return for an investigation into Biden as “crazy.”
Earlier this week, House investigators released the private impeachment testimonies of several current and former U.S. officials, including Sondland, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; and Kurt Volker, the State Department’s former special envoy to Ukraine.
Schiff on Wednesday announced a new chapter in the impeachment inquiry, stating public hearings with Taylor, Yovanovitch and Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent will be held next week.
Read the transcript of Taylor’s testimony below.
This story has been updated with additional details from Taylor’s testimony.