Musing about law, books, and politics

Bill Taylor’s devastating written statement to Congress.

I took notes while reading Bill Taylor’s statement to Congress. Michael Fisher wanted me to Tweet my notes.

I cannot resist a cute kitty. So here they are:

May 28: Pompeo asked Taylor to lead the embassy in Ukraine.

June: Taylor arrived in Kiev to find a “weird combination of encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances.”

The encouraging part: The newly elected Zelenskyy supported long-stalled anti-corruption legislation and appointed reformist ministers.

The confusing part: There were “two channels of U.S policy making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular.”

The regular channel was the embassy, overseeing US efforts to support Ukraine against Russian aggression & defeat corruption.

The irregular channel, which began on May 23, included Kurt Volker, Ambassador Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and Giuliani. The irregular channel was operating outside the official State Department channels.

Initially both channels had the same goal: A strong US-Ukraine partnership and a Trump-Zelenskyy meeting.

June 27: Sondland told Taylor in a phone conversation that Zelenskyy needed to make clear to Trump that he (Zelenskyy) was not standing in the way of “investigations.”

By mid-July it was clear to Taylor that the White House meeting Zelenskyy wanted (and badly needed) was conditioned on an investigation into the company Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. Taylor understood that this was being guided by Guiliani.

July 10: Taylor later learned that when Ukrainian officials met with Bolton, Volker, and Sondland at the White House, Sondland connected “investigations” with an Oval Office meeting.

Bolton was so irritated that he abruptly left the meeting.

Bolton left saying Ukrainians shouldn’t have to deal with “domestic politics.” This was the “drug deal” he later referred to.

July 10: Zelenskyy’s chief of staff told Taylor they were “alarmed and disappointed” to learn from Giuliani that the meeting was unlikely to happen.

July 18: Taylor learned from a staff person at the OMB that the directive to withhold Ukraine’s security assistance came directly from Trump. Nobody, though, would say why aid was withheld. Taylor was astonished. (It put the Ukrainian fighters against Russia in danger.)

July 20: Danyliuk told Taylor that Zelenskyy didn’t want to be used as a pawn in a U.S. reelection campaign.

July 21: Taylor texted this to Volker and Sondland:

Taylor visited the front lines and learned “More Ukrainians would undoubtedly die” without the aid.

[Narrator: If you want to pick a crime (which I advise against, impeachment is not about the criminal code) the crime is extortion, not bribery]

Aug. 16: Taylor learned that Yermak (advisor to Zelenskyy) asked the US to submit an official request for an investigation into Burisma’s alleged violation of Ukrainian law, if that’s what the US desired.

[Narrator: Clever to ask for an official request? Put the blame on Trump, which of course Trump didn’t want. He wanted it to look like the Ukrainians targeted Biden “corruption” on their own.]

Taylor knew such a request wasn’t proper.

Sept. 1: Zelenskyy met Pence in Warsaw.

Also in Warsaw, Sondland told Zelenskyy’s advisor that the security assistance wouldn’t come until Zelenskyy committed to pursuing the Burisma investigation.

For the first time Taylor understood security assistance—not just the meeting—was conditioned on an investigation.

The next day, Taylor asked Sondland this now famous question:

During the phone call that followed, Sondland said, “Trump wants Zelenskyy to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US election.”

Sondland also said he made a mistake in telling Ukrainian officials that a White House meeting was dependent on such an announcement.

In fact, Sondland now understood, “everything” was dependent on the announcement. Sondland said Trump wanted Zelenskyy in a “public box.”

Taylor told Sondland this was wrong and asked him to “push back” against these improper requests. Sondland said he would try.

Sept 5: Taylor and two Senators, Johnson and Murphy, met with Zelenskyy in Kiev. Zelenskyy asked the Senators about the security assistance.

Both Senators worried that if Zelenskyy was pulled into domestic politics, he risked losing bipartisan support in the US.

Sept. 7: Taylor learned that Trump told Sondland that he wasn’t asking for a “quid pro quo” but he did insist that Zelenskyy make a public announcement.

Sept. 8: Sondland (& later Volker) told Taylor that Trump was a businessman, and before a businessman signs a check, he asks that the person pay up. Taylor said that made no sense. The Ukrainians didn’t owe Trump anything and moreover , and holding up security assistance for domestic gain was “crazy.”

Taylor, being a pro, then repeated this in an electronic message

[Narrator: We have here the very definition of public corruption.]

What say you, elected Republican officials?

[View here as a Twitter thread]