At today’s first public impeachment hearing, a witness testified that President Donald Trump cared more about his own political interests than about Ukraine’s welfare.
Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, disclosed that a member of his staff overheard a July 26 phone call in which Trump asked Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about “the investigations.”
Sondland responded that the Ukrainians were “ready to move forward.”
Taylor said the staff member was in Kiev with Sondland when the phone call took place. Sondland and Taylor’s staff member had met a top adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The day before, Trump spoke from the White House with Zelenskiy by phone and pressed the Ukrainian leader to investigate a political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and Biden’s son Hunter.
Taylor said he was more alarmed by a hold Trump had placed on security assistance to Ukraine than the dangling of a possible Trump-Zelenskiy White House meeting:
“It’s one thing to try to leverage a meeting in the White House,” Taylor said.
“It’s another thing, I thought, to leverage security assistance – security assistance to a country at war, dependent on both the security assistance and the demonstration of support. It was much more alarming,” he added.
Democrats are investigating whether Trump abused his power by withholding $391 million in security aid to Ukraine – a vulnerable U.S. ally facing Russian aggression – as leverage to pressure Kiev into conducting investigations into political rivals.
The money – approved by the U.S. Congress to help Ukraine combat Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country – was later provided to Ukraine.
The hearing continues today and again on Friday.
Data compiled by Jack Anderson.