Wednesday, October 23, 2019

All He Wrote

Ambassador William Taylor spent nearly nine hours in closed session with the House committee yesterday.  His opening statement can be read here, and you can download it here.

From the Washington Post:

America’s top diplomat in Ukraine delivered a forceful blow to President Trump’s account of his “perfect” dealings with that nation, telling lawmakers Tuesday that the White House had threatened to withdraw much-needed military aid unless Kyiv announced investigations for Trump’s political benefit.

The explosive, closed-door testimony from acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. undermined Trump’s insistence that he never pressured Ukrainian officials in a potentially improper “quid pro quo.” It also offered House investigators an expansive road map to what Taylor called a “highly irregular” channel of shadow diplomacy toward Ukraine that lies at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

In a 15-page opening statement, obtained by The Washington Post, Taylor repeatedly expressed his shock and bewilderment as he watched U.S. policy toward Ukraine get overtaken by Trump’s demand that newly elected president Volodymyr Zelensky “go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of [Democratic presidential candidate Joe] Biden and 2016 election interference.”

“ ‘Everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance,” Taylor said he was told by Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

A seasoned diplomat, Army veteran and meticulous note taker, Taylor told lawmakers that former national security adviser John Bolton and other officials from the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA tried unsuccessfully to get a meeting with Trump to persuade him to release the money — nearly $400 million intended to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia.

But Trump’s hold on the aid extended well into September, and Taylor said he found himself considering resignation. “I could not and would not defend such a policy,” Taylor said.

The blockbuster testimony came hours after Trump escalated his attack on the impeachment inquiry, tweeting that it was a “lynching” and drawing swift condemnation from Democrats and some Republicans for equating the constitutional process with the barbaric killing of African Americans.

Cue up the attacks from the White House and let slip the lapdogs of toadyism to try to discredit Amb. Taylor — “Okay, who’s gonna believe a seasoned veteran and career diplomat over a sleazy real estate grifter?” — and then claim that because Ukraine finally got the money, there was no quid pro quo.  Yeah, no; if you walk into a bank and pass the teller a note demanding cash and they arrest you before you actually get the loot, you’re still guilty of attempted robbery.

So, Amb. Taylor’s statement has basically corroborated the testimony of Trump and the rough transcript he released of the call to President Zelensky and supports the conclusion of acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.  All that’s left now is to watch and be entertained by the Republicans trying to explain it all away and figure out a way to save their own asses after defending the indefensible.  At some point they have to decide it’s us or him, and when they do, it’s won’t be pretty for Trump.  One can only hope.

As for the “lynching” comment, that was purely aimed at the base of the party (like this fine example) who have been so put-upon for the insufferable oppression they’ve been under for not being able to use certain words and the utter shame of having to share a lunch counter with someone who doesn’t look like them.  Oh, the humanity.