Pernyataan Pembukaan oleh Duta Besar Bill Taylor 22 Oktober 2019 - Sejarah

Pernyataan Pembukaan oleh Duta Besar Bill Taylor 22 Oktober 2019 - Sejarah

Tuan Pengerusi, saya menghargai kesempatan untuk hadir hari ini untuk memberikan perspektif saya mengenai peristiwa yang menjadi subjek siasatan Jawatankuasa. Tujuan tunggal saya adalah untuk memberi pandangan kepada Jawatankuasa mengenai kepentingan strategik Ukraine kepada Amerika Syarikat serta maklumat tambahan mengenai insiden yang dimaksudkan.

Saya telah mengabdikan hidup saya untuk melayani kepentingan A.S. di dalam dan luar negara baik dalam peranan tentera dan awam. Latar belakang dan pengalaman saya tidak berpihak dan saya diberi penghormatan untuk berkhidmat di bawah setiap pentadbiran, Republik dan Demokrat, sejak tahun 1985.

Selama 50 tahun, saya telah berkhidmat untuk negara ini, bermula sebagai kadet di West Point, kemudian sebagai pegawai infanteri selama enam tahun, termasuk dengan Bahagian Udara ke-101 di Vietnam; kemudian di Jabatan Tenaga; kemudian sebagai anggota kakitangan Senat; kemudian di NATO; kemudian dengan Jabatan Negara di sini dan di luar negara - di Afghanistan, Iraq, Yerusalem, dan Ukraine; dan baru-baru ini, sebagai Naib Presiden Eksekutif Institut Damai Amerika Syarikat yang tidak berpihak.

Walaupun saya telah berkhidmat di banyak tempat dan dalam kapasiti yang berbeza, saya mempunyai minat dan rasa hormat terhadap kepentingan hubungan negara kita dengan Ukraine. Keselamatan negara kita menuntut agar hubungan ini tetap kuat, namun, pada bulan Ogos dan September tahun ini, saya menjadi semakin bimbang bahawa hubungan kita dengan Ukraine pada dasarnya dirosakkan oleh saluran pembuatan dasar AS yang tidak teratur dan tidak disekat oleh penolakan penting bantuan keselamatan atas alasan politik domestik. Saya berharap ucapan saya hari ini dapat membantu Jawatankuasa memahami mengapa saya mempercayai hal itu.

Pada awalnya, saya ingin menyampaikan beberapa perkara penting. Pertama, Ukraine adalah rakan strategik Amerika Syarikat, yang penting untuk keselamatan negara kita dan juga Eropah. Kedua, Ukraine, pada masa ini - semasa kita duduk di ruangan ini - dan selama lima tahun terakhir, di bawah serangan bersenjata dari Rusia. Ketiga, bantuan keselamatan yang kami berikan sangat penting bagi pertahanan Ukraine terhadap pencerobohan Rusia, dan yang lebih penting lagi, memberi isyarat kepada Ukraine - dan Rusia - bahawa kami adalah rakan strategik Ukraine yang boleh dipercayai. Dan akhirnya, seperti yang diketahui oleh Jawatankuasa-Jawatankuasa tersebut, saya mengatakan pada 9 September dalam sebuah pesan kepada Duta Besar Gordon Sondland bahawa penolakan bantuan keselamatan sebagai ganti pertolongan dengan kempen politik domestik di Amerika Syarikat akan "gila". Saya percaya itu, dan saya masih mempercayainya.

Sekarang saya izinkan Jawatankuasa memberikan kronologi peristiwa yang menimbulkan kebimbangan saya.

Pada 28 Mei tahun ini, saya bertemu dengan Setiausaha Mike Pompeo yang meminta saya kembali ke Kyiv untuk memimpin kedutaan kita di Ukraine. Ini adalah - dan merupakan - masa kritikal dalam hubungan A.S.-Ukraine: Volodymyr Zelenskyy baru saja dipilih sebagai presiden dan Ukraine terus berperang dengan Rusia. Ketika musim panas menjelang, pemerintah Ukraina baru akan duduk, pemilihan parlimen sudah dekat, dan lintasan politik Ukraine akan ditetapkan untuk beberapa tahun ke depan.

Saya pernah berkhidmat sebagai Duta Besar ke Ukraine dari tahun 2006 hingga 2009, setelah dicalonkan oleh George W. Bush, dan, dalam tempoh 10 tahun, saya terus bertunang dengan Ukraine, sering berkunjung sejak 2013 sebagai anggota dewan orang kecil kecil Ukraine organisasi pemerintah yang menyokong pemerintahan dan pembaharuan yang baik. Di sebalik tanggungjawab yang saya laksanakan dalam perkhidmatan awam, Ukraine adalah istimewa bagi saya, dan tawaran Setiausaha Pompeo untuk kembali sebagai Ketua Misi sangat menarik. Saya yakin akan kepentingan Ukraine untuk keselamatan Amerika Syarikat dan Eropah kerana dua sebab yang berkaitan:

Pertama, jika Ukraine berjaya melepaskan diri dari pengaruh Rusia, adalah mustahil bagi Eropah untuk menjadi utuh, bebas, demokratik, dan damai. Sebaliknya, jika Rusia menguasai Ukraine, Rusia akan kembali menjadi kerajaan, menindas rakyatnya, dan mengancam jiran-jirannya dan seluruh dunia.

Kedua, dengan mencapainya Crimea pada tahun 2014 dan pencerobohan yang berterusan di Donbas, Rusia melanggar banyak perjanjian, mengabaikan semua komitmen, dan menolak semua prinsip yang menjaga keamanan dan menyumbang kepada kemakmuran di Eropah sejak Perang Dunia II. Untuk mengembalikan kemerdekaan Ukraine, Rusia mesti meninggalkan Ukraine. Ini telah dan harus terus menjadi matlamat dasar luar A.S. bipartisan.

Semasa saya berkhidmat di luar pemerintahan semasa pemerintahan Obama dan selepas pencerobohan Rusia ke Ukraine pada tahun 2014, saya bergabung dengan dua bekas duta besar lain ke Ukraine dalam mendesak pegawai pentadbiran Obama di Jabatan Negara, Jabatan Pertahanan, dan agensi lain untuk memberikan senjata pertahanan yang mematikan ke Ukraine untuk mencegah pencerobohan Rusia yang lebih jauh. Saya juga menyokong sekatan yang lebih kuat terhadap Rusia.

Semuanya, saya mengambil berat tentang masa depan Ukraine dan kepentingan penting A.S. di sana. Oleh itu, semasa Setiausaha Pompeo meminta saya kembali ke Kyiv, saya ingin mengatakan "ya."

Tetapi itu bukan keputusan yang mudah. Mantan Duta Besar, Masha Yovanovitch, telah diperlakukan dengan buruk, terjebak dalam jaringan intrik politik di Kyiv dan di Washington. Saya bimbang masalah itu masih ada. Namun, ketika saya bercakap dengannya untuk menerima tawaran itu, dia mendesak saya untuk pergi, baik atas alasan dasar dan semangat kedutaan.

Sebelum menjawab Setiausaha, saya berjumpa dengan isteri saya dan bekas pegawai kanan Republik yang dihormati yang telah menjadi mentor kepada saya. Saya akan memberitahu anda bahawa isteri saya, dalam keadaan tidak pasti, sangat menentang idea itu. Mentor menasihati: jika negara anda meminta anda melakukan sesuatu, anda melakukannya - jika anda dapat menjadi berkesan.

Saya boleh berkesan hanya jika dasar AS yang menyokong kuat Ukraine - sokongan diplomatik yang kuat bersama dengan keselamatan, ekonomi, dan bantuan teknikal yang kuat - akan diteruskan dan sekiranya saya mendapat sokongan Setiausaha Negara untuk melaksanakan dasar itu. Saya bimbang dengan apa yang saya dengar mengenai peranan Rudolph Giuliani, yang telah membuat beberapa pernyataan berprofil tinggi mengenai dasar Ukraine dan A.S. terhadap negara itu. Oleh itu, semasa pertemuan saya dengan Setiausaha Pompeo pada 28 Mei, saya menjelaskan kepadanya dan yang lain menyatakan bahawa sekiranya dasar A.S. terhadap Ukraine berubah, dia tidak mahu saya diposkan di sana dan saya tidak boleh tinggal. Dia meyakinkan saya bahawa dasar sokongan kuat untuk Ukraine akan berterusan dan bahawa dia akan menyokong saya dalam mempertahankan dasar itu.

Dengan pemahaman itu, saya bersetuju untuk kembali ke Kyiv. Oleh kerana saya dilantik oleh Setiausaha tetapi tidak disahkan oleh Senat, jawatan rasmi saya adalah Chargé d'Affaires sementara.

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Saya kembali ke Kyiv pada 17 Jun, membawa salinan surat yang ditandatangani Presiden Trump sehari selepas saya bertemu dengan Setiausaha. Dalam surat itu, Presiden Trump mengucapkan tahniah kepada Presiden Zelenskyy atas kemenangan pilihan raya dan menjemputnya ke mesyuarat di Pejabat Oval. Saya juga membawa salinan deklarasi Setiausaha yang dibingkai bahawa Amerika Syarikat tidak akan mengiktiraf pencabutan haram Crimea dari Rusia.

Tetapi begitu saya tiba di Kyiv, saya menemui gabungan keadaan pelik, membingungkan, dan akhirnya membimbangkan.

Pertama, yang menggembirakan: Presiden Zelenskyy mengambil alih Ukraine dengan tergesa-gesa. Dia telah melantik menteri reformis dan menyokong undang-undang anti-rasuah yang sudah lama terhenti. Dia mengambil tindakan eksekutif yang cepat, termasuk membuka Mahkamah Tinggi Anti-Rasuah Ukraina, yang ditubuhkan di bawah pemerintahan presiden sebelumnya tetapi tidak pernah dibenarkan beroperasi. Dia menyebut pemilihan parlimen cepat - partinya begitu baru sehingga tidak memiliki perwakilan di Rada - dan kemudian memenangkan mandat yang luar biasa, menguasai 60 persen kerusi. Dengan majoriti parlimen barunya, Presiden Zelenskyy mengubah perlembagaan Ukraine untuk menghilangkan kekebalan mutlak dari timbalan Rada, yang menjadi sumber rasuah mentah selama dua dekad. Terdapat banyak kegembiraan di Kyiv bahawa kali ini perkara boleh berbeza - Ukraine baru akhirnya dapat melepaskan diri dari masa lalunya yang pasca Soviet.

Namun, saya menjumpai pengaturan yang membingungkan dan tidak biasa untuk membuat dasar A.S. terhadap Ukraine. Tampaknya terdapat dua saluran pembuatan dan pelaksanaan dasar A.S., satu saluran biasa dan satu sangat tidak teratur. Sebagai Ketua Misi, saya mempunyai wewenang atas proses diplomatik formal yang tetap, termasuk sebahagian besar usaha A.S. untuk menyokong Ukraine menentang pencerobohan Rusia dan menolongnya mengalahkan rasuah. Saluran pembuatan dasar A.S. secara berkala ini secara konsisten mendapat sokongan bipartisan yang kuat baik di Kongres dan di semua pentadbiran sejak kemerdekaan Ukraine dari Rusia pada tahun 1991.

Namun, pada waktu yang sama, ada saluran tidak rasmi yang tidak teratur mengenai pembuatan dasar AS berkenaan dengan Ukraine, yang termasuk Utusan Khas Kurt Volker, Duta Besar Sondland, Setiausaha Tenaga Rick Perry, dan seperti yang saya ketahui kemudian, Mr. Giuliani. Saya jelas berada di saluran biasa, tetapi saya juga berada dalam tahap yang tidak teratur sehingga Ambassadors Volker dan Sondland memasukkan saya dalam perbualan tertentu. Walaupun saluran yang tidak teratur ini dihubungkan dengan baik di Washington, saluran ini beroperasi di luar saluran rasmi Jabatan Negara. Saluran tidak teratur ini bermula ketika Duta Besar Volker, Duta Besar Sondland, Setiausaha Perry, dan Senator Ron Johnson memberi taklimat kepada Presiden Trump pada 23 Mei setelah mereka kembali dari pelantikan Presiden Zelenskyy. Delegasi itu kembali ke Washington dengan penuh semangat dengan presiden Ukraine yang baru dan mendesak Presiden Trump untuk bertemu dengannya lebih awal untuk mempererat hubungan A.S.-Ukraine. Tetapi dari apa yang saya fahami, Presiden Trump tidak berkongsi minat mereka untuk bertemu dengan Encik Zelenskyy.

Ketika saya pertama kali tiba di Kyiv, pada bulan Jun dan Julai, tindakan saluran luar biasa dan tidak tetap berfungsi dengan tujuan yang sama - A.S. yang kuat

Perkongsian Ukraine - tetapi menjadi jelas bagi saya pada bulan Ogos bahawa saluran telah menyimpang dari objektifnya. Ketika ini berlaku, saya menjadi semakin prihatin.

Pada akhir bulan Jun, salah satu tujuan kedua saluran tersebut adalah untuk memudahkan lawatan Presiden Zelenskyy ke Gedung Putih untuk mengadakan pertemuan dengan Presiden Trump, yang telah dijanjikan oleh Presiden Trump dalam surat ucapan selamatnya pada 29 Mei. Orang-orang Ukraine jelas bersemangat untuk pertemuan untuk berlaku. Semasa panggilan persidangan dengan Duta Besar Volker, Pemangku Penolong Setiausaha Negara untuk Hal Ehwal Eropah dan Eurasia Phil Reeker, Setiausaha Perry, Duta Besar Sondland, dan Penasihat Jabatan Negara AS Ulrich Brechbuhl pada 18 Jun, jelas bahawa pertemuan antara kedua-duanya presiden adalah matlamat yang dipersetujui.

Tetapi semasa komunikasi saya berikutnya dengan Duta Besar Volker dan Sondland, mereka menyampaikan kepada saya bahawa Presiden "ingin mendengar dari Zelenskyy" sebelum menjadualkan pertemuan di Pejabat Oval. Tidak jelas bagi saya apa maksudnya ini.

Pada 27 Jun, Duta Besar Sondland memberitahu saya semasa perbualan telefon bahawa Presiden Zelenskyy perlu menjelaskan kepada Presiden Trump bahawa dia, Presiden Zelenskyy, tidak menghalangi "penyiasatan."

Saya merasakan sesuatu yang aneh ketika Duta Besar Sondland memberitahu saya pada 28 Jun bahawa dia tidak mahu memasukkan sebahagian besar peserta interagensi biasa dalam panggilan yang dirancang dengan Presiden Zelenskyy pada hari itu. Duta Besar Sondland, Duta Besar Volker, Setiausaha Perry, dan saya berada dalam panggilan ini, menghubungi dari pelbagai lokasi. Namun, Duta Besar Sondland mengatakan bahawa dia ingin memastikan tidak ada yang menulis atau memantau ketika mereka menambahkan Presiden Zelenskyy ke panggilan tersebut. Juga, sebelum Presiden Zelenskyy menyertai panggilan tersebut, Duta Besar Volker secara berasingan memberitahu para peserta AS bahawa dia, Duta Besar Volker, merancang untuk bersikap eksplisit dengan Presiden Zelenskyy dalam pertemuan satu lawan satu di Toronto pada 2 Julai mengenai apa yang harus dilakukan oleh Presiden Zelenskyy untuk mendapatkannya mesyuarat Rumah Putih. Sekali lagi, tidak jelas bagi saya mengenai panggilan apa maksudnya, tetapi Duta Besar Volker menyatakan bahawa dia akan menyatakan bahawa Presiden Trump ingin melihat kedaulatan undang-undang, ketelusan, tetapi juga, secara khusus, kerjasama dalam penyiasatan untuk "sampai ke dasar perkara. " Sebaik sahaja Presiden Zelenskyy menyertai panggilan tersebut, perbincangan itu tertumpu pada dasar tenaga dan jambatan Stanytsia-Luhanska. Presiden Zelenskyy juga mengatakan bahawa dia menantikan lawatan ke Rumah Putih yang ditawarkan Presiden Trump dalam suratnya pada 29 Mei.

Saya melaporkan panggilan ini kepada Timbalan Penolong Setiausaha Negara George Kent, yang mempunyai tanggungjawab untuk Ukraine, dan saya menulis memo untuk catatan bertarikh 30 Jun yang merangkum perbualan kami dengan Presiden Zelenskyy.

Menjelang pertengahan bulan Julai, menjadi jelas bagi saya bahawa pertemuan yang diinginkan Presiden Zelenskyy bergantung pada siasatan Burisma dan dakwaan campur tangan Ukraine dalam pilihan raya AS 2016. Juga jelas bahawa keadaan ini didorong oleh saluran polisi yang tidak teratur yang saya fahami dipandu oleh Encik Giuliani.

Pada 10 Julai, pegawai Ukraine Alexander Danyliuk, penasihat keselamatan nasional Ukraine, dan Andriy Yermak, pembantu Presiden Zelenskyy, dan Setiausaha Perry, Penasihat Keselamatan Nasional John Bolton, Duta Besar Volker, dan Duta Besar Sondland bertemu di Rumah Putih. Saya tidak mengambil bahagian dalam perjumpaan itu dan tidak menerima pembacaannya sehinggalah bercakap dengan Pengarah Kanan Hal Ehwal Eropah dan Rusia Majlis Keselamatan Negara (NSC), Fiona Hill, dan Pengarah Hal Ehwal Eropah NSC, Alex Vindman, pada 19 Julai.

Pada 10 Julai di Kyiv, saya bertemu dengan ketua kakitangan Presiden Zelenskyy, Andrei Bohdan, dan penasihat dasar luar ketika itu kepada presiden dan sekarang Menteri Luar Negeri Vadym Prystaiko, yang memberitahu saya bahawa mereka telah mendengar daripada Encik Giuliani bahawa panggilan telefon antara kedua-dua presiden tidak mungkin berlaku dan mereka bimbang dan kecewa. Saya menyampaikan keprihatinan mereka kepada Kaunselor Brechbuhl.

Dalam panggilan persidangan video NSC yang selamat pada 18 Julai, saya mendengar kakitangan dari Pejabat Pengurusan dan Belanjawan (OMB) mengatakan bahawa ada penangguhan bantuan keselamatan kepada Ukraine tetapi tidak dapat mengatakan mengapa. Menjelang akhir perjumpaan yang biasa, suara dalam panggilan - orang itu di luar layar - mengatakan bahawa dia berasal dari OMB dan bosnya telah mengarahkannya untuk tidak menyetujui perbelanjaan tambahan untuk keselamatan untuk Ukraine sehingga diberitahu lebih lanjut. Saya dan yang lain merasa hairan - orang Ukraine memerangi Rusia dan tidak hanya mengandalkan latihan dan senjata, tetapi juga jaminan sokongan A.S. Semua yang dikatakan oleh kakitangan OMB adalah bahawa arahan itu datang dari Presiden kepada Ketua Staf kepada OMB. Dalam sekelip mata, saya menyedari bahawa salah satu tonggak utama sokongan kuat kami terhadap Ukraine diancam. Saluran dasar yang tidak teratur berjalan bertentangan dengan matlamat dasar A.S. yang telah lama berlaku.

Terdapat beberapa siri perjumpaan antara agensi yang diketuai NSC, bermula di peringkat staf dan dengan cepat mencapai tahap setiausaha Kabinet. Pada setiap perjumpaan,

kesimpulan sebulat suara adalah bahawa bantuan keselamatan harus disambung semula, penangguhan dicabut. Pada satu ketika, Jabatan Pertahanan diminta untuk melakukan analisis keberkesanan bantuan tersebut. Dalam sehari, Jabatan Pertahanan kembali dengan tekad bahawa bantuan itu berkesan dan harus disambung semula. Pemahaman saya adalah bahawa Setiausaha Pertahanan dan Negara, Pengarah CIA, dan Penasihat Keselamatan Nasional meminta pertemuan bersama dengan Presiden untuk meyakinkannya untuk melepaskan penangguhan itu, tetapi pertemuan seperti itu sukar dijadualkan dan penangguhan berlangsung hingga September .

Keesokan harinya melalui telefon, Dr. Hill dan Encik Vindman cuba meyakinkan saya bahawa mereka tidak mengetahui adanya perubahan rasmi dalam dasar A.S. terhadap Ukraine, walaupun pengumuman OMB. Mereka memang mengesahkan bahawa penangguhan bantuan keselamatan untuk Ukraine berasal dari Ketua Staf Mick Mulvaney dan bahawa Ketua Staf mempertahankan pandangan skeptikal terhadap Ukraine.

Dalam panggilan telefon 19 Julai yang sama, mereka memberi saya catatan mengenai pertemuan 10 Julai dengan pegawai Ukraine di Rumah Putih. Secara khusus, mereka memberitahu saya bahawa Duta Besar Sondland telah menghubungkan "penyiasatan" dengan pertemuan Pejabat Oval untuk Presiden Zelenskyy, yang sangat mengganggu Duta Besar Bolton sehingga dia tiba-tiba mengakhiri pertemuan itu, memberitahu Dr. Vindman bahawa mereka tidak harus ada kaitan dengan politik domestik. Dia juga mengarahkan Dr. Hill untuk "memberi penjelasan kepada para pengacara." Dr. Hill mengatakan bahawa Duta Besar Bolton menyebutnya sebagai "perjanjian dadah" setelah pertemuan 10 Julai. Duta Besar Bolton menentang panggilan antara Presiden Zelenskyy dan Presiden Trump kerana bimbang bahawa ia "akan menjadi bencana."

Tidak perlu dikatakan, orang-orang Ukraine dalam pertemuan itu keliru. Duta Besar Bolton, dalam saluran pengambilan keputusan dasar Ukraine, ingin membincangkan keselamatan, tenaga, dan pembaharuan; Duta Besar Sondland, seorang peserta saluran yang tidak teratur, ingin membincangkan hubungan antara pertemuan Rumah Putih dan siasatan Ukraine.

Juga semasa panggilan kami pada 19 Julai, Dr. Hill memberitahu saya bahawa Duta Besar Volker telah bertemu dengan Encik Giuliani untuk membincangkan Ukraine. Ini mengejutkan saya. Pada keesokan harinya saya bertanya kepada Duta Besar Volker mengenai pertemuan itu, tetapi tidak mendapat sambutan. Saya mula merasakan bahawa dua saluran membuat keputusan - yang biasa dan tidak teratur - terpisah dan bertentangan.

Kemudian pada 19 Julai dan pada awal pagi 20 Julai (waktu Kyiv), saya menerima pesanan teks dalam perbualan teks WhatsApp tiga arah dengan Ambassadors Volker dan Sondland, satu rekod yang saya faham telah diberikan kepada

Jawatankuasa oleh Duta Besar Volker. Duta Besar Sondland mengatakan bahawa panggilan antara Presiden Trump dan Presiden Zelenskyy akan berlaku tidak lama lagi. Duta Besar Volker mengatakan bahawa apa yang paling tepat adalah untuk Zelensky mengatakan bahawa dia akan membantu siasatan - dan menangani masalah personel tertentu - jika ada. "

Kemudian pada 20 Julai, saya berbual melalui telefon dengan Duta Besar Sondland ketika dia dalam kereta api dari Paris ke London, Duta Besar Sondland memberitahu saya bahawa dia telah mengesyorkan kepada Presiden Zelenskyy agar dia menggunakan ungkapan, "Saya tidak akan meninggalkan batu" dengan berkenaan dengan "penyiasatan" ketika Presiden Zelenskyy bercakap dengan Presiden Trump.

Juga pada 20 Julai, saya mengadakan perbualan telefon dengan Tuan Danyliuk, di mana dia memberitahu saya bahawa Presiden Zelenskyy tidak mahu dijadikan gadai dalam kempen pemilihan semula A.S. Keesokan harinya saya menghantar SMS kepada Duta Besar Volker dan Sondland mengenai kebimbangan Presiden Zelenskyy.

Pada 25 Julai, Presiden Trump dan Presiden Zelenskyy mengadakan perbualan telefon yang telah lama ditunggu-tunggu. Anehnya, walaupun saya adalah Ketua Misi dan dijadualkan bertemu dengan Presiden Zelenskyy bersama dengan Duta Besar Volker pada keesokan harinya, saya tidak menerima panggilan dari Gedung Putih. Kerajaan Ukraine mengeluarkan ringkasan pendek dan samar.

Semasa pertemuan yang dirancang sebelumnya pada 26 Julai, Presiden Zelenskyy memberitahu Duta Besar Volker dan saya bahawa dia gembira dengan panggilan itu tetapi tidak mengulas lanjut. Presiden Zelenskyy kemudian bertanya tentang pertemuan tatap muka di Oval Office seperti yang dijanjikan dalam surat 29 Mei dari Presiden Trump.

Selepas pertemuan kami dengan Presiden Zelenskyy, Duta Besar Volker dan saya mengembara ke barisan depan di utara Donbas untuk menerima taklimat dari panglima tentera di talian hubungan. Tiba untuk taklimat di markas tentera, komandan mengucapkan terima kasih atas bantuan keselamatan, tetapi saya menyedari bahawa bantuan ini ditangguhkan, yang membuat saya tidak selesa.

Duta Besar Volker dan saya dapat melihat pasukan tentera Rusia yang bersenjata dan bermusuhan di seberang jambatan yang rosak melintasi talian hubungan. Lebih 13,000 warga Ukraine terbunuh dalam perang, satu atau dua minggu. Lebih ramai orang Ukraine pasti akan mati tanpa bantuan A.S.

Walaupun saya menghabiskan pagi 26 Julai dengan Presiden Zelenskyy dan pegawai Ukraine yang lain, ringkasan pertama panggilan Trump-Zelenskyy yang saya dengar dari mana-mana pihak di dalam kerajaan AS adalah semasa panggilan telefon yang saya lakukan dengan Tim Morrison, pengganti Dr. Hill baru-baru ini di NSC, pada 28 Julai. Encik Morrison memberitahu saya bahawa panggilan "mungkin lebih baik" dan bahawa Presiden Trump telah mencadangkan agar Presiden Zelenskyy atau pegawainya bertemu dengan Encik Giuliani dan Peguam Negara William Barr. Saya tidak melihat pembacaan rasmi mengenai panggilan tersebut sehingga dikeluarkan secara terbuka pada 25 September.

Pada 16 Ogos, saya bertukar pesanan teks dengan Duta Besar Volker di mana saya mengetahui bahawa Encik Yeriak telah meminta agar Amerika Syarikat mengemukakan permintaan rasmi untuk penyiasatan terhadap tuduhan pelanggaran undang-undang Ukraine di Burisma, jika itulah yang diinginkan Amerika Syarikat. Permintaan rasmi A.S. kepada warga Ukraine untuk menjalankan siasatan berdasarkan pelanggaran undang-undang mereka sendiri menganggap saya tidak wajar, dan saya mengesyorkan kepada Duta Besar Volker agar kami "tetap jelas." Akan tetapi, untuk mengetahui aspek undang-undang dari soalan tersebut, saya memberinya nama seorang Timbalan Penolong Peguam Negara yang saya fikir akan menjadi tempat hubungan yang tepat untuk mendapatkan rujukan A.S. untuk siasatan asing.

Menjelang pertengahan Ogos, kerana bantuan keselamatan telah ditahan selama lebih dari sebulan tanpa alasan yang dapat saya ketahui, saya mula takut bahawa dasar sokongan kuat A.S. untuk Ukraine yang sudah lama berubah. Saya memanggil Kaunselor Brechbuhl untuk membincangkan perkara ini pada 21 Ogos. Dia mengatakan bahawa dia tidak menyedari perubahan dasar A.S. tetapi akan memeriksa status bantuan keselamatan. Keprihatinan saya semakin mendalam pada keesokan harinya, pada 22 Ogos, semasa perbualan telefon dengan Encik Morrison. Saya bertanya kepadanya apakah ada perubahan dalam kebijakan sokongan kuat untuk Ukraine, yang mana dia menjawab, "masih harus dilihat." Dia juga memberitahu saya semasa panggilan ini bahawa "Presiden sama sekali tidak mahu memberikan bantuan." Itu sangat merisaukan saya. Seperti yang saya katakan kepada Setiausaha Pompeo pada bulan Mei, jika dasar sokongan kuat terhadap Ukraine berubah, saya harus meletakkan jawatan. Berdasarkan panggilan saya dengan Encik Morrison, saya bersiap untuk melakukannya.

Beberapa hari kemudian, pada 27 Ogos, Duta Besar Bolton tiba di Kyiv dan bertemu dengan Presiden Zelenskyy. Semasa perjumpaan mereka, bantuan keselamatan tidak dibincangkan - sungguh mengejutkan, berita mengenai penahanan itu tidak sampai pada 29 Ogos. Sebaliknya, saya terlalu sedar dan masih terganggu oleh penahanan tersebut. Menjelang akhir lawatan Duta Besar Bolton, saya meminta untuk menemuinya secara tertutup, di mana saya menyatakan kepadanya keprihatinan serius saya terhadap penolakan bantuan ketenteraan ke Ukraine semasa Ukraine mempertahankan negara mereka dari pencerobohan Rusia. Duta Besar Bolton mengesyorkan agar saya menghantar kabel orang pertama ke

Setiausaha Pompeo secara langsung, menyampaikan kebimbangan saya. Saya menulis dan memancarkan kabel seperti itu pada 29 Ogos, menggambarkan "kebodohan" yang saya lihat ketika menahan bantuan ketenteraan ke Ukraine pada masa ketika permusuhan masih aktif di timur dan ketika Rusia mengawasi dengan teliti untuk mengukur tahap sokongan Amerika terhadap Kerajaan Ukraine. Saya memberitahu Setiausaha bahawa saya tidak boleh dan tidak akan mempertahankan dasar tersebut. Walaupun saya tidak mendapat respons khusus, saya mendengar bahawa tidak lama kemudian, Setiausaha membawa kabel itu ke pertemuan di Rumah Putih yang memfokuskan bantuan keselamatan untuk Ukraine.

Pada hari yang sama ketika saya menghantar kabel saya kepada Setiausaha, 29 Ogos, Encik Yermak menghubungi saya dan sangat prihatin, bertanya mengenai bantuan keselamatan yang ditahan. Teguran yang diberikan oleh Rumah Putih pada bantuan itu baru saja diumumkan pada hari itu dalam sebuah kisah Politico. Pada ketika itu, saya malu kerana tidak dapat memberikan penjelasan kepadanya mengapa ia ditahan.

Masih belum terpikir oleh saya bahawa penangguhan bantuan keselamatan berkaitan dengan "penyelidikan". Namun, itu akan segera berubah.

Pada 1 September, hanya tiga hari setelah saya menghubungi Setiausaha Pompeo, Presiden Zelenskyy bertemu dengan Naib Presiden Pence pada pertemuan dua hala di Warsaw. Presiden Trump telah merancang untuk pergi ke Warsawa tetapi pada saat-saat terakhir telah dibatalkan kerana Badai Dorian. Hanya beberapa jam sebelum pertemuan Pence-Zelenskyy, saya menghubungi Encik Danyliuk untuk memberitahunya bahawa kelewatan bantuan keselamatan AS adalah cadangan "semua atau apa-apa", dalam arti bahawa jika Gedung Putih tidak melepaskan penangguhan sebelum akhir tahun fiskal (30 September), dana akan habis dan Ukraine tidak akan menerima apa-apa. Saya berharap pada pertemuan dua hala atau tidak lama selepas itu, Gedung Putih akan menghentikan penangguhan itu, tetapi ini tidak berlaku. Memang, saya menerima pembacaan mesyuarat Pence-Zelenskyy melalui telefon dari Encik Morrison, di mana dia memberitahu saya bahawa Presiden Zelenskyy telah membuka pertemuan dengan meminta Naib Presiden mengenai kerjasama keselamatan. Naib Presiden tidak bertindak balas secara substansial, tetapi mengatakan bahawa dia akan bercakap dengan Presiden Trump malam itu. Wakil Presiden memang mengatakan bahawa Presiden Trump mahu orang Eropah berbuat lebih banyak untuk menyokong Ukraine dan bahawa dia mahu orang Ukraine melakukan lebih banyak perkara untuk memerangi rasuah.

Semasa panggilan telefon yang sama dengan Mr. Morrison, dia meneruskan perbincangan yang dilakukan oleh Duta Besar Sondland dengan Mr. Yermak di Warsaw. Duta Besar Sondland memberitahu Encik Yermak bahawa wang bantuan keselamatan tidak akan datang sehingga Presiden Zelenskyy komited untuk meneruskan siasatan Burisma. Saya terkejut dengan apa yang diberitahu oleh Mr. Morrison mengenai perbualan Sondland-Yermak. Ini adalah pertama kalinya saya mendengar bahawa bantuan keselamatan - bukan hanya perjumpaan di Rumah Putih - bergantung pada siasatan.

Sangat prihatin, pada hari yang sama saya mengirim Duta Besar Sondland mesej teks yang bertanya apakah "kita sekarang mengatakan bahawa bantuan keselamatan dan [pertemuan] WH dikira berdasarkan siasatan?" Duta Besar Sondland menjawab meminta saya memanggilnya, yang saya lakukan. Semasa panggilan telefon itu, Duta Besar Sondland memberitahu saya bahawa Presiden Trump telah memberitahunya bahawa dia mahu Presiden Zelenskyy menyatakan secara terbuka bahawa Ukraine akan menyiasat Burisma dan dakwaan campur tangan Ukraine dalam pilihan raya AS 2016.

Duta Besar Sondland juga memberitahu saya bahawa dia sekarang menyedari bahawa dia telah melakukan kesalahan dengan sebelumnya memberitahu para pegawai Ukraine kepada siapa dia berbicara bahawa pertemuan Gedung Putih dengan Presiden Zelenskyy bergantung pada pengumuman penyiasatan secara terbuka - sebenarnya, Duta Besar Sondland mengatakan, " semuanya bergantung pada pengumuman seperti itu, termasuk bantuan keselamatan. Dia mengatakan bahawa Presiden Trump menginginkan Presiden Zelenskyy "di kotak umum" dengan membuat pernyataan umum mengenai memerintahkan penyiasatan tersebut.

Dalam panggilan yang sama pada 1 September, saya memberitahu Duta Besar Sondland bahawa Presiden Trump seharusnya lebih menghormati ketua negara yang lain dan bahawa apa yang digambarkannya bukan untuk kepentingan Presiden Trump atau Presiden Zelenskyy. Pada ketika itu saya meminta Duta Besar Sondland untuk menolak permintaan Presiden Trump. Duta Besar Sondland berjanji akan mencuba. Kami juga membincangkan kemungkinan bahawa Jaksa Agung Ukraine, dan bukannya Presiden Zelenskyy, akan membuat pernyataan mengenai siasatan, berpotensi bekerjasama dengan siasatan Peguam Negara Barr mengenai siasatan gangguan dalam pilihan raya 2016.

Keesokan harinya, 2 September, Encik Morrison menelefon saya untuk memberitahu bahawa Encik Danyliuk memintanya untuk datang ke bilik hotelnya di Warsaw, di mana Encik Danyliuk menyatakan kebimbangan mengenai kemungkinan kehilangan sokongan A.S. untuk Ukraine. Secara khusus, Encik Morrison menyampaikan kepada saya bahawa ketidakupayaan mana-mana pegawai A.S. untuk menjawab soalan eksplisit Ukraine mengenai bantuan keselamatan mengganggu mereka. Saya mengalami ketegangan yang sama dalam hubungan saya dengan orang Ukraine, termasuk semasa perjumpaan saya dengan Menteri Pertahanan Ukraine, Andriy Zagordnyuk pada hari itu.

Semasa panggilan saya dengan Encik Morrison pada 2 September, saya juga memberi penerangan kepada Encik Morrison mengenai apa yang diberitahu oleh Duta Besar Sondland semasa panggilan kami sehari sebelumnya.

Pada 5 September, saya menjadi tuan rumah Senator Senator dan Murphy untuk lawatan ke Kyiv. Semasa lawatan mereka, kami bertemu dengan Presiden Zelenskyy. Pertanyaan pertamanya kepada para senator adalah mengenai bantuan keselamatan yang ditahan. Saya ingat pertemuan itu adalah bahawa kedua-dua senator menekankan bahawa sokongan bipartisan untuk Ukraine di Washington adalah aset strategik terpenting di Ukraine dan bahawa Presiden Zelenskyy tidak boleh membahayakan sokongan bipartisan itu dengan tertarik pada politik domestik A.S.

Saya telah membuat (dan terus menyatakan) perkara ini kepada semua kenalan rasmi Ukraine saya. Tetapi desakan untuk membuat Presiden Zelenskyy secara terbuka berkomitmen terhadap penyiasatan Burisma dan dakwaan campur tangan dalam pilihan raya 2016 menunjukkan bagaimana kebijakan luar negeri rasmi Amerika Syarikat dipotong oleh usaha tidak tetap yang dipimpin oleh Mr Giuliani.

Dua hari kemudian, pada 7 September, saya mengadakan perbualan dengan Encik Morrison di mana dia menggambarkan perbualan telefon pada awal hari itu antara Duta Besar Sondland dan Presiden Trump. Morrison mengatakan bahawa dia mempunyai "perasaan tenggelam" setelah mengetahui perbualan ini dari Duta Besar Sondland. Menurut Mr Morrison, Presiden Trump memberitahu Duta Besar Sondland bahawa dia tidak meminta "quid pro quo." Tetapi Presiden Trump menegaskan bahawa Presiden Zelenskyy pergi ke mikrofon dan mengatakan bahawa dia sedang membuka siasatan mengenai campur tangan pilihan raya Biden dan 2016, dan Presiden Zelenskyy semestinya mahu melakukan ini sendiri. Morrison mengatakan bahawa dia memberitahu Duta Besar Bolton dan peguam NSC mengenai panggilan telefon antara Presiden Trump dan Duta Besar Sondland.

Keesokan harinya, pada 8 September, Duta Besar Sondland dan saya bercakap melalui telefon. Dia mengatakan bahawa dia telah berbicara dengan Presiden Trump seperti yang saya sarankan seminggu sebelumnya, tetapi Presiden Trump bersikeras bahawa Presiden Zelenskyy, sendiri, harus "menyelesaikan sesuatu dan melakukannya di depan umum." Presiden Trump mengatakan itu bukan "quid pro quo." Duta Besar Sondland mengatakan bahawa dia telah bercakap dengan Presiden Zelenskyy dan Encik Yermak dan memberitahu mereka bahawa, walaupun ini bukan masalah yang baik, jika Presiden Zelenskyy tidak "menyelesaikan masalah" di depan umum, kita akan berada di "jalan buntu". Saya memahami "kebuntuan" yang bermaksud bahawa Ukraine tidak akan menerima bantuan ketenteraan yang sangat diperlukan. Duta Besar Sondland mengatakan bahawa perbualan ini diakhiri dengan Presiden Zelenskyy bersetuju untuk membuat pernyataan awam dalam wawancara dengan CNN.

Selepas panggilan dengan Duta Besar Sondland pada 8 September, saya menyatakan keberatan saya dalam pesanan teks kepada Duta Besar Sondland, dengan menyatakan bahawa "mimpi buruk saya ialah mereka [orang Ukraine] memberikan wawancara dan tidak mendapat bantuan keselamatan. Orang Rusia menyukainya. (Dan saya berhenti.). " Saya serius.

Pada keesokan harinya, saya mengatakan kepada Duta Besar Sondland dan Volker bahawa "[t] dia pesan kepada Ukraine (dan Rusia) yang kami kirimkan dengan keputusan mengenai bantuan keselamatan adalah kunci. With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us.” I also said, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Ambassador Sondland responded about five hours later that I was “incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”

Before these text messages, during our call on September 8, Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check. Ambassador Volker used the same terms several days later while we were together at the Yalta European Strategy Conference. I argued to both that the explanation made no sense: the Ukrainians did not “owe” President Trump anything, and holding up security assistance for domestic political gain was “crazy,” as I had said in my text message to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker on September 9.

Finally, I learned on September 11 that the hold had been lifted and that the security assistance would be provided.

After I learned that the security assistance was released on September 11, I personally conveyed the news to President Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Prystaiko. And I again reminded Mr. Yermak of the high strategic value of bipartisan support for Ukraine and the importance of not getting involved in other countries’ elections. My fear at the time was that since Ambassador Sondland had told me President Zelenskyy already agreed to do a CNN interview, President Zelenskyy would make a statement regarding “investigations” that would have played into domestic U.S. politics. I sought to confirm through Mr. Danyliuk that President Zelenskyy was not planning to give such an interview to the media. While Mr. Danyliuk initially confirmed that on September 12, I noticed during a meeting on the morning of September 13 at President Zelenskyy’s office that Mr. Yermak looked uncomfortable in response to the question. Again, I asked Mr. Danyliuk to confirm that there would be no CNN interview, which he did.

On September 25 at the UN General Assembly session in New York City, President Trump met President Zelenskyy face-to-face. He also released the transcript of the July 25 call. The United States gave the Ukrainians virtually no notice of the release, and they were livid. Although this was the first time I had seen the details of President Trump’s July 25 call with President Zelenskyy, in which he mentioned Vice President Biden, I had come to understand well before then that “investigations” was a term that Ambassadors Volker and Sondland used to mean matters related to the 2016 elections, and to investigations of Burisma and the Bidens.

* * * * *

I recognize that this is a rather lengthy recitation of the events of the past few months told from my vantage point in Kyiv. But I also recognize the importance of the matters your Committees are investigating, and I hope that this chronology will provide some framework for your questions.

I wish to conclude by returning to the points I made at the outset. Ukraine is important to the security of the United States. It has been attacked by Russia, which continues its aggression against Ukraine. If we believe in the principle of sovereignty of nations on which our security and the security of our friends and allies depends, we must support Ukraine in its fight against its bullying neighbor. Russian aggression cannot stand.

There are two Ukraine stories today. The first is the one we are discussing this morning and that you have been hearing for the past two weeks. It is a rancorous story about whistleblowers, Mr. Giuliani, side channels, quid pro quos, corruption, and interference in elections. In this story Ukraine is an object.

But there is another Ukraine story — a positive, bipartisan one. In this second story, Ukraine is the subject. This one is about young people in a young nation, struggling to break free of its past, hopeful that their new government will finally usher in a new Ukraine, proud of its independence from Russia, eager to join Western institutions and enjoy a more secure and prosperous life. This story describes a nation developing an inclusive, democratic nationalism, not unlike what we in America, in our best moments, feel about our diverse country — less concerned about what language we speak, what religion if any we practice, where our parents and grandparents came from; more concerned about building a new country.

Because of the strategic importance of Ukraine in our effort to create a whole, free Europe, we, through Republican and Democratic administrations over three decades, have supported Ukraine. Congress has been generous over the years with assistance funding, both civilian and military, and political support. With overwhelming bipartisan majorities, Congress has supported Ukraine with harsh sanctions on Russia for invading and occupying Ukraine. We can be proud of that support and that we have stood up to a dictator’s aggression against a democratic neighbor.

It is this second story that I would like to leave you with today.

And I am glad to answer your questions.


Top diplomat Bill Taylor reveals new details at impeachment hearing &mdash read his opening statement

In his opening statement in the first public hearings of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Ambassador Bill Taylor told lawmakers that he recently learned a member of his staff had overheard President Trump asking about "the investigations" the day after his July 25 call with the president of Ukraine. Here's how he described it:

Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26. While Ambassador Volker and I visited the front, this member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland. Ambassador Sondland met with Mr. Yermak.

Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about "the investigations." Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.

The staffer who overheard the conversation is David Holmes, a political officer in the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, three sources familiar with the matter told CBS News. Holmes is now expected to appear for a closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill on Friday. Taylor went on to say that after the call, the staffer spoke with Sondland about Mr. Trump's thoughts on Ukraine:

Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for. At the time I gave my deposition on October 22, I was not aware of this information. I am including it here for completeness. As the Committee knows, I reported this information through counsel to the State Department's Legal Adviser, as well as to counsel for both the Majority and the Minority on the Committee. It is my understanding that the Committee is following up on this matter.


Taylor says he was planning to resign if Ukraine aid not released

Bill Taylor said in his opening statement to the House committees investigating impeachment that he was preparing to resign in August over the delaying of military aid to Ukraine.

The acting US ambassador to Ukraine said that he had a conversation on August 22 with Tim Morrison of the National Security Council. Morrison indicated during the phone call that Trump was opposed to authorizing any military aid to Ukraine.

Taylor said: “As I had told Secretary [Mike] Pompeo in May, if the policy of strong support for Ukraine were to change, I would have to resign. Based on my call with Mr. Morrison, I was preparing to do so.”

In his opening statement to the House committees investigating impeachment, Bill Taylor said he was told by an official at the National Security Council that Trump had insisted the Ukrainian president himself publicly announce a probe into Joe Biden and his son.

The acting US ambassador to Ukraine said: “President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself.”

However, Taylor said that Trump had told Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, he was not seeking a “quid pro quo,” even as military aid to Ukraine hung in the balance.

At the risk of stating the obvious: if Trump demanded that the Ukrainian president make public announcements of investigations into Democrats before he would authorize the release of military aid, then his actions were the very definition of a quid pro quo.


Read the Ukraine Envoy’s Statement to Impeachment Inquiry

William B. Taylor Jr., the United States’ top diplomat in Ukraine, delivered testimony to impeachment investigators on Tuesday that described an effort by President Trump to withhold aid for Ukraine until the country’s leader agreed to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals. Read six takeaways from Mr. Taylor’s testimony.

Opening Statement of Ambassador William B. Taylor – October 22, 2019

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to appear today to provide my perspective on the events that are the subject of the Committees’ inquiry. My sole purpose is to provide the Committees with my views about the strategic importance of Ukraine to the United States as well as additional information about the incidents in question.

I have dedicated my life to serving U.S. interests at home and abroad in both military and civilian roles. My background and experience are nonpartisan and I have been honored to serve under every administration, Republican and Democratic, since 1985.

For 50 years, I have served the country, starting as a cadet at West Point, then as an infantry officer for six years, including with the 101 st Airborne Division in Vietnam then at the Department of Energy then as a member of a Senate staff then at NATO then with the State Department here and abroad — in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jerusalem, and Ukraine and more recently, as Executive Vice President of the nonpartisan United States Institute of Peace.

While I have served in many places and in different capacities, I have a particular interest in and respect for the importance of our country’s relationship with Ukraine. Our national security demands that this relationship remain strong, However, in August and September of this year, I became increasingly concerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making and by the withholding of vital security assistance for domestic political reasons. I hope my remarks today will help the Committees understand why I believed that to be the case.

At the outset, I would like to convey several key points. First, Ukraine is a strategic partner of the United States, important for the security of our country as well as Europe. Second, Ukraine is, right at this moment — while we sit in this room — and for the last five years, under armed attack from Russia. Third, the security assistance we provide is crucial to Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression, and, more importantly, sends a signal to Ukrainians — and Russians — that we are Ukraine’s reliable strategic partner. And finally, as the Committees are now aware, I said on September 9 in a message to Ambassador Gordon Sondland that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be 𠇌razy.” I believed that then, and I still believe that.

Let me now provide the Committees a chronology of the events that led to my concern.

On May 28 of this year, I met with Secretary Mike Pompeo who asked me to return to Kyiv to lead our embassy in Ukraine. It was — and is — a critical time in U.S.-Ukraine relations: Volodymyr Zelenskyy had just been elected president and Ukraine remained at war with Russia. As the summer approached, a new Ukrainian government would be seated, parliamentary elections were imminent, and the Ukrainian political trajectory would be set for the next several years.

I had served as Ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, having been nominated by George W. Bush, and, in the intervening 10 years, I have stayed engaged with Ukraine, visiting frequently since 2013 as a board member of a small Ukrainian non-governmental organization supporting good governance and reform. Across the responsibilities I have had in public service, Ukraine is special for me, and Secretary Pompeo’s offer to return as Chief of Mission was compelling. I am convinced of the profound importance of Ukraine to the security of the United States and Europe for two related reasons:

First, if Ukraine succeeds in breaking free of Russian influence, it is possible for Europe to be whole, free, democratic, and at peace. In contrast, if Russia dominates Ukraine, Russia will again become an empire, oppressing its people, and threatening its neighbors and the rest of the world.

Second, with the annexation of the Crimea in 2014 and the continued aggression in Donbas, Russia violated countless treaties, ignored all commitments, and dismissed all the principles that have kept the peace and contributed to prosperity in Europe since World War II. To restore Ukraine’s independence, Russia must leave Ukraine. This has been and should continue to be a bipartisan U.S. foreign policy goal.

When I was serving outside of government during the Obama adıninistration and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, I joined two other former ambassadors to Ukraine in urging Obama administration officials at the State Department, Defense Department, and other agencies to provide lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine in order to deter further Russian aggression. I also supported much stronger sanctions against Russia.

All to say, I cared about Ukraine’s future and the important U.S. interests there. So, when Secretary Pompeo asked me to go back to Kyiv, I wanted to say “yes.”

But it was not an easy decision. The former Ambassador, Masha Yovanovitch, had been treated poorly, caught in a web of political machinations both in Kyiv and in Washington. I feared that those problems were still present. When I talked to her about accepting the offer, however, she urged me to go, both for policy reasons and for the morale of the embassy.

Before answering the Secretary, I consulted both my wife and a respected former senior Republican official who has been a mentor to me. I will tell you that my wife, in no uncertain terms, strongly opposed the idea. The mentor counseled: if your country asks you to do something, you do it — if you can be effective.

I could be effective only if the U.S. policy of strong support for Ukraine — strong diplomatic support along with robust security, economic, and technical assistance — were to continue and if I had the backing of the Secretary of State to implement that policy. I worried about what I had heard concerning the role of Rudolph Giuliani, who had made several high-profile statements about Ukraine and U.S. policy toward the country. So during my meeting with Secretary Pompeo on May 28, I made clear to him and the others present that if U.S. policy toward Ukraine changed, he would not want me posted there and I could not stay. He assured me that the policy of strong support for Ukraine would continue and that he would support me in defending that policy.

With that understanding, I agreed to go back to Kyiv. Because I was appointed by the Secretary but not reconfirmed by the Senate, my official position was Chargé d�ires ad interim.

I returned to Kyiv on June 17, carrying the original copy of a letter President Trump signed the day after I met with the Secretary. In that letter, President Trump congratulated President Zelenskyy on his election victory and invited him to a meeting in the Oval Office. I also brought with me a framed copy of the Secretary’s declaration that the United States would never recognize the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea.

But once I arrived in Kyiv, I discovered a weird combination of encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances.


Trump thanks Republicans after GOP lawmakers stormed secure impeachment hearing

"There were audible sighs and 'ughs' (during Taylor's deposition) when that process was described," according to the source.

Download the NBC News app for the latest news on the impeachment inquiry

One member of Congress who was in the room, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said the moment made the connection clear between the withholding of aid and Trump's demand that Ukraine conduct an investigation that could implicate his political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

"He drew a very direct line in a series of events he described as being President Trump's decision to withhold funds and refuse a meeting with Zelenskiy," Wasserman Schultz said, "unless there was a public pronouncement by him of investigations of Burisma."

Burisma is the Ukrainian energy firm for which Biden's son Hunter served as a board member.

Last week, the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, acknowledged during a news conference that the aid was held up as part of a quid pro quo, although he later insisted his words had been misreported by the press.

In a July phone call with Zelenskiy, Trump asked him for a "favor" and then asked for help in investigating both the origins of the investigation into 2016 Russian election interference, as well as an energy company tied to Hunter Biden.

Taylor could be a linchpin of any impeachment case against Trump and that sentiment was realized when he delivered his opening statement to the committee on Tuesday. The gravity of the moment and the realization of what is at stake in the impeachment probe was palpable in the room, according to multiple sources who were in attendance.

At one point, "one prominent (Republican) member who will go nameless turned to an aide and said, 'This isn't good,'" a person in the room said.


It's Not The Deep State That Threatens Trump. It's The State.

S ince he took office, President Donald Trump has frequently claimed a &ldquodeep state&rdquo is trying to sabotage his presidency, denouncing a supposed corrupt conspiracy in the U.S. government that he says is working in the shadows to undermine him. But ultimately, Articles of Impeachment against Trump may be drafted on the testimony of career bureaucrats, relying on routine skills built over decades of public service. It&rsquos their credibility, expertise, and meticulous records that may prove the most damaging to a president who has long disparaged such discipline.

That dynamic was on display again on Tuesday, when the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine defied the Trump administration&rsquos orders and testified before the three congressional committees leading the impeachment probe. Charge d&rsquoaffaires Bill Taylor&rsquos testimony made “the most compelling case yet” that the White House had withheld military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponents, a person who was present for his deposition told TIME.

Lawmakers coming out of the almost ten-hour hearing said that Taylor filled in the picture drawn by other career officials, including former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and Trump&rsquos former top White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill. Taken together, the bureaucrats have provided damning context to what Trump meant when he told Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, &ldquoI would like you to do us a favor.&rdquo

Testifying behind closed doors, Taylor tied the president directly to efforts to make military aid to Ukraine contingent on the probes Trump sought for his own political gain. Taylor said he was told that Trump would withhold the aid until the country&rsquos leaders publicly announced investigations into Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and into unsubstantiated allegations of Ukrainian collusion with Democrats in the 2016 election, according to a copy of his 15-page opening statement obtained by TIME. Taylor called it &ldquocrazy&rdquo and &ldquoweird,&rdquo and described in detail his impression of the &ldquoirregular, informal channels&rdquo used by Trump&rsquos personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Taylor, who is still employed by the State Department, used extensive personal notes but did not share them with the committees. As a career foreign service officer and former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, noted on Twitter, keeping careful records is second nature to diplomats &ldquobecause we worried foreign interlocutors might misrepresent conversations.&rdquo Taylor’s previous experience as ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009 added to his credibility.

Not all the witnesses who have come before the committee have engendered respect from Democrats. Taylor&rsquos low-key style contrasted with Trump appointees with little to no experience, like E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, whose testimony he seemed to contradict. In his opening statement, Taylor said that Sondland &ldquotried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check.&rdquo Taylor told lawmakers that argument &ldquomade no sense,&rdquo because the Ukrainians did not &ldquoowe&rdquo Trump anything and holding up the aid was against U.S. national security interests.

Where Sondland frequently said he couldn’t remember much of his work in Ukraine, Taylor recalled events with clarity. &ldquoThere were many things that Ambassador Sondland didn&rsquot remember that Ambassador Taylor remembered in excruciating detail,&rdquo Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz agreed. &ldquoIt was less about protecting himself and more about just a lifelong habit so he could recall with accuracy his career,&rdquo Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, said.

By early afternoon, it was clear that Tuesday&rsquos testimony was &ldquoturning out to be more important than some of us expected,” a person who was present for his deposition told TIME. Taylor was not only supporting what other witnesses had said, but also laying out how the administration, at the president’s direction, used military aid to Ukraine that Congress had approved as leverage to extract a partisan political favor “relative not only to 2016, but more important to 2020,&rdquo they said.

Although Taylor and other witnesses have worked for both Republican and Democratic administrations, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham condemned their testimony as &ldquoa coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution.&rdquo

But other normally vocal defenders of the president were notably low-key when approached by reporters about Taylor&rsquos testimony. Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the oversight committee, said the diplomat&rsquos answers helped the President but declined to say how.


Read the Full Transcript

Judy Woodruff:

The congressional impeachment inquiry now has critical new evidence tying President Trump to possible abuse of power. It came today from the man running the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.

White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage.

Yamiche Alcindor:

A new day, a new startling witness in the growing impeachment inquiry. This time, it was acting Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor.

Taylor delivered a 15-page opening statement that stunned the room. Taylor said Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, had been told by President Trump &mdash quote &mdash "that he wasn't asking for a quid pro quo, but President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference."

Freshman Democrat Andy Levin of Michigan called Taylor's testimony disturbing.

Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich.:

All I have to say is that, in my 10 short months in Congress, it's not even noon, right, and this is the &mdash my most disturbing day in Congress.

Yamiche Alcindor:

Taylor had been ambassador to Ukraine a decade ago. He agreed to fill in again in June, after Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was abruptly removed.

In text messages to Sondland, Taylor voiced his concerns. He called it &mdash quote &mdash "crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." Sondland then replied: "The president has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo's of any kind" and &mdash quote &mdash "I suggest we stop the back and forth by text."

Today, House Democrats said those messages and Taylor's deposition are central to their impeachment inquiry. Meanwhile, there was bipartisan backlash to President Trump comparing impeachment to lynching.

Early today, President Trump tweeted that &mdash quote &mdash "All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here, a lynching."

The blowback came quickly. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn:

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.:

Well, I think to have the president classify a constitutional remedy to an unlawful, egregious act such as lynching is beneath the dignity of the office of president of the United States.

Yamiche Alcindor:

Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, also spoke out.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.:

There is no question that the impeachment process is the closest thing of a political death row trial, so I get his absolute rejection of the process. I wouldn't use the word lynching.

Yamiche Alcindor:

GOP leaders like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell distanced themselves from the president's language.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

Given the history in our country, I wouldn't compare this to a lynching.

Yamiche Alcindor:

But South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of President Trump, defended him.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.:

This is a lynching in every sense. This is un-American.

Yamiche Alcindor:

And White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said this:

Hogan Gidley:

He's not comparing himself to those dark times. Whether you're white, black, brown, red, it doesn't matter. His policies have lifted all the boats in this country, and that is the story.

Yamiche Alcindor:

All this comes as reports suggest Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungary's far-right leader Viktor Orban negatively influenced President Trump's view of Ukraine. Both countries view Ukraine as hostile to their own interests.

Judy Woodruff:

And Yamiche joins me now, even as this story continues to develop.

So, Yamiche, it's pretty clear that Ambassador Taylor, what he had to say startled lawmakers in what he had to say about the administration, in exchange for information about what happened in 2016 and going forward about Joe Biden, that the ambassador was saying the administration clearly withheld military aid.

But what more did we learn about what he had to say today?

Yamiche Alcindor:

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, came to Capitol Hill and delivered stunning testimony.

I spoke to several people who were in the room, and they told me that there were audible gasps and that people were really sighing and really surprised by the fact that Bill Taylor was laying out what he believes was a pressure campaign by President Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to really pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats for his own political gain.

I want to walk through some of that 15-page opening statement, because it was really stunning, even as Bill Taylor spoke for hours.

So, some of the things he said was, Ambassador Sondland &mdash now, he is the E.U. ambassador &mdash the ambassador to the European Union &mdash said that he had talked to President Zelensky and Mr. Yermak &mdash now, that's a top aide to President Zelensky &mdash and told them that although there wasn't a quid pro quo, if President Zelensky didn't clear things up in public, we would be at a &mdash quote &mdash "stalemate. I understood stalemate to mean that Ukraine wouldn't receive much needed military assistance."

He went on to say that: "Everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance."

So, what you saw there was Bill Taylor really walking lawmakers through what he felt was a pressure campaign to get Ukraine to do things to benefit President Trump politically.

And it's also stunning to put in that statement that Bill Taylor said he pushed back on Ambassador Gordon Sondland and said, you know, why is President Trump doing this? It seems crazy. And Gordon Sondland told him, well, President Trump is a businessman, and that he feels as though he needs to get what's owed to him before he signs.

And Bill Taylor essentially said, well, President Trump isn't really owed anything from Ukraine. And Gordon Sondland basically doubled down and said the president needed to get what he wanted to get before this military aid would go to Ukraine.

Judy Woodruff:

So, Yamiche, given that, how does this fit &mdash how did &mdash what Ambassador Taylor had to say, how does this fit into the overall impeachment inquiry at this point?

Yamiche Alcindor:

Democrats say that Bill Taylor is now a central part of the impeachment inquiry.

They say that his testimony is really evidence that President Trump was engaged in this quid pro quo. Now, a number of lawmakers came out praising Bill Taylor for his words.

I want to also, though, explain that Bill Taylor talked specifically about the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Here's what he said.

He said his involvement &mdash quote &mdash "shows how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Mr. Giuliani."

So, essentially, he's saying Mr. Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, his work was intertwined, and that that was troubling to him.

That dovetails and really goes in with what all the other people have been saying to lawmakers that they have come to Capitol Hill. The ambassador to Ukraine, the former ambassador to Ukraine, that was removed said the same thing.

And really what we're seeing is a clearer and clearer picture of the fact that Rudy Giuliani was doing the president's bidding. But there are lawmakers that say that this is really just the beginning of this and that Bill Taylor is going to be possibly leading to Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, being called back to Congress.

They're also saying that his testimony might accelerate the impeachment inquiry. So we are going to have to really see how these developments continue, as Bill Taylor might just be the beginning of other people being called back to Congress.

Judy Woodruff:

And, separately, Yamiche, you did refer and you were reporting on the reaction to the president comparing this inquiry to a lynching.

We heard what some members of Congress have had to say today about that. But I know you have been talking to the White House.

How does this &mdash what does this say about how they view this impeachment inquiry and how they're dealing with it?

Yamiche Alcindor:

President Trump understands what a lynching is.

And he rally was trying the use the strongest language that he felt possible to explain the fact that he feels as though he's being wronged by this impeachment inquiry.

The White House is saying that he didn't mean to compare himself to the mass murder of African-Americans, which is what lynching refers to. But, that said, there are a lot of people, including members of the president's own party, who are really up in arms with his use of the language of lynching.

And we should remain &mdash or we should explain to people that lynching is something that happened between 1882 and 1958, according to the NAACP, and about 4,700 Americans were lynched, and the vast majority of them were African-Americans.

So there are people who are still alive whose family members were lynched who were killed just because they were African-American. So, this is really painful history that President Trump was talking about.

But, that being said, there are Democrats who are really saying that this is more of the same from President Trump, that he's been someone who has been using, they consider, racist language and other things that have really been making race relations in this country harder and harder and the divisions deeper.

But there are Republicans who say that the president should feel wronged because they feel as though the impeachment inquiry is unfair.

Judy Woodruff:

So interesting to hear the different reactions from the two Republican U.S. senators from South Carolina, Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, to the president's comments.

Yamiche Alcindor, reporting for us from the Capitol today, thank you, Yamiche.


'Incredibly damaging to the president': Ambassador William Taylor's opening statement leaves representatives gasping and shaken

The testimony of William Taylor, who has been acting as head of the diplomatic mission to Ukraine since Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was removed on the basis of conspiracy theories pushed by Rudy Giuliani, has been considered one of the most critical moments for the impeachment inquiry. It wasn’t until Tuesday morning that it became known that the State Department was trying to prevent Taylor from appearing, but, as with Yovanovitch, a last-minute subpoena was issued, and Taylor has appeared. Early reports from the closed-door hearing indicate that Taylor has not disappointed. His 15-page opening statement (not yet available) has reportedly generated “sighs and gasps” within the chamber.

    described Taylor’s testimony as “incredibly damaging to the president.” This was also based on the opening statement in advance of the question-and-answer period.
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz emerged from the chamber following the opening statements to say, “I do not know how you would listen to today's testimony by the ambassador, Ambassador Taylor, and draw any other conclusion, except that the President abused his power.”
  • Rep. Andy Levin emerged at a break to say, "This is my most disturbing day in Congress so far, very troubling."
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell, speaking on CNN, stated, “The arrows continue to point in one direction,” supporting the original whistleblower complaint.
  • The reason for “sighs and gasps” in the hearing is reported to be simply the extent of the efforts to “tie an investigation of Burisma and 2016 election” to military aid.

In texts exchanged with other members of Trump’s European team, Taylor expressed concerns about Ukraine being “used as an instrument” for the 2020 election, and said, “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” If Taylor hasn’t already been asked about the phone conversations he had before and after that text message … he will be.


6. Demands were made for secrecy and career officials, including Taylor, were left in the dark about key events.

I sensed something odd when Ambassador Sondland told me on June 28 that he did not wish to include most of the regular interagency participants in a call planned with President Zelensky later that day. Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Volker, Secretary [Rick] Perry, and I were on this call, dialing in from different locations. However, Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelensky to the call.

On July 25, President Trump and President Zelensky had the long-awaited phone conversation. Strangely, even though I was Chief of Mission and was scheduled to meet with President Zelensky along with Ambassador Volker the following day, I received no readout of the call from the White House. The Ukrainian government issued a short, cryptic summary.


WASHINGTON — The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, told members of Congress Tuesday that President Donald Trump directed officials to tie foreign aid to Ukraine to demands that the country open an investigation into the Biden family and the 2016 election, a potentially serious blow to Trump's repeated denials of a quid pro quo.

According to a copy of his opening statement provided to NBC News, Taylor said that E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland told him that while Trump was not requesting a "quid pro quo," he insisted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy publicly announce investigations into the Bidens and matters relating to the 2016 presidential election.

Members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees questioned Taylor about conversations he had with other American diplomats about the Trump administration's policy toward Ukraine.

Taylor told the committees that "it was becoming clear" to Taylor as early as July that nearly $400 million of military aid was being withheld on the condition that Zelenskiy commit to investigating the Burisma energy company as well as a conspiracy theory about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

Taylor said that Sondland told him in September that "everything," meaning military aid and a meeting with Trump in Washington, was dependent on Zelenskiy making a public statement committing to order the investigations.

Sondland "said that President Trump wanted President Zelenskiy in 'a public box' by making a public statement about ordering such investigations," Taylor testified.

Taylor said his concerns grew throughout the summer. He said he raised concerns to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and considered resigning. He also raised objections to officials at the National Security Counsel at the White House, Taylor testified.

In his 15-page opening statement, Taylor also charged that much of the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine circumvented normal diplomatic channels. Taylor said that when he took over the position, "I found a confusing and unusual arrangement for making U.S. policy towards Ukraine. There appeared to be two channels of U.S. policy-making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular."

"The push to make President Zelenskiy publicly commit to investigations of Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by [Trump's personal lawyer Rudy] Giuliani," Taylor added later.

Democrats emerging from the day-long deposition Tuesday, which began at 9:30 a.m. and lasted more than nine hours, said that Taylor’s testimony offered a "disturbing" portrayal of Trump's Ukraine dealings. Members described Taylor's testimony as crucial, saying that he not only filled in many of the holes created by previous testimony and depositions but also drew a "direct line" between the president's demand for an investigation by the Ukrainians into his political rivals and U.S. military aid.

In his testimony Taylor said he was told that the president insisted there was no quid pro quo, but Taylor painted a picture of a series of events that would be defined as such.

"I do not know how you would listen to today's testimony by the ambassador, Ambassador Taylor, and draw any other conclusion, except that the president abused his power and withheld foreign aid," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. "It's a direct line."

Speaking to reporters after hearing Taylor’s testimony, Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, called the diplomat’s remarks "shocking" and said "it was so clear that this was what was going to be required for foreign assistance which is just so egregious."

Two Democrats also said that Taylor took "meticulous" personal notes but those have not yet been handed over to the committee.

After departing the closed-door deposition a few hours in, freshman Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., told reporters that it was his "most disturbing day in the Congress so far . very troubling."

Republicans said little, or played down Taylor’s testimony. "Nothing new here," Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina said.

"President Trump has done nothing wrong — this is a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution," said White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham. "There was no quid pro quo. Today was just more triple hearsay and selective leaks from the Democrats’ politically motivated, closed-door, secretive hearings."


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