A former top US diplomat has linked President Donald Trump directly to attempts to force the Ukrainian government to investigate political rivals and the president sought to dismiss reports Thursday he had asked for a publicly conveyed clean chit from his attorney general and had been turned down.
William Taylor, who runs the US embassy in Kyiv, told impeachment investigators last month, that there was a definite quid pro quo in the administration’s efforts to force Ukraine to investigate former vice-president Joe Biden and other Democrats tying it with security aid for Ukraine and a White House meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky.
“That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the president (of Ukraine) committed to pursue the investigation,” Taylor told the investigators in an explosive revelation, according to a transcript of his testimony released Thursday.
His testimony goes further than previous witnesses’ in linking Trump directly to the pressure applied on Ukraine, contrary to his claims that there was no quid pro quo.
Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump based on a whistleblower complaint about a call in which the American president pressed Zelensky to order an investigation against his political rivals.
Shortly after, Trump had asked for a news conference by Attorney General William Barr to say there was nothing wrong with the call and was turned down, according to The Washington Post, which was followed by other news outlets. The justice department had indeed looked at the transcript of the call and had determined no campaign finance laws had been violated. But it had not said it was good or bad.
Trump, who has claimed the call was “perfect”, pushed back in a tweet. “Bill Barr did not decline my request to talk about Ukraine. The story was a Fake Washington Post con job with an “anonymous” source that doesn’t exist. Just read the Transcript. The Justice Department already ruled that the call was good.”