For eight years, House Republicans searched for a “smoking gun” that could unravel the presidency of Barack Obama. They presided over hundreds of oversight hearings, issued more than 100 subpoenas, held the attorney general in contempt of Congress, and even formed a special select committee devoted exclusively to one investigation, on Benghazi. As someone who spent five years working alongside Republicans on the Oversight Committee, I can tell you that we never found a “smoking gun” like the testimony that was provided yesterday from the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, William B. Taylor.
Ambassador Taylor delivered a 15-page opening statement that detailed the “confusing and unusual arrangement” involving the nongovernment employee Rudy Giuliani’s “irregular” role in making aid to Ukraine conditioned on the promise to investigate the family of one of President Donald Trump’s political rivals, Joe Biden. Taylor testified that Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had ordered an Office of Management and Budget staff member to “hold security assistance to Ukraine,” even though the Defense Department had determined that the “assistance was effective and should be resumed.”
Taylor also testified that Ambassador Gordon Sondland told him that “President Trump had told him that he wants President [Volodymyr] Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma [the company on whose board Hunter Biden sat] and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.” Taylor further said that following Trump’s September 7 phone call with President Zelensky, a National Security Council aide told him that Trump insisted that “President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference.”