WASHINGTON — The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry released a transcript on Wednesday from a closed-door deposition of a figure central to the investigation as the proceedings move to a more public phase. The first public hearings are scheduled for next week.
The witness testimony, from William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, provided one of the most vivid accounts about the actions at the heart of the inquiry. Reporters from The New York Times are combing through his deposition, highlighting key parts and offering context and analysis.
Taylor said it was Giuliani’s idea to have Ukraine’s president commit to the political investigations.
Page 260-261: “I think the origin of the idea to get President Zelensky to say out loud he’s going to investigate Burisma and 2016 election, I think the originator, the person who came up with that was Mr. Giuliani.”
According to Mr. Taylor, it was Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, who devised the plan for Ukraine officials to publicly commit to launching investigations. Under questioning, Mr. Taylor also made clear that Mr. Giuliani was representing the interests of Mr. Trump.
Bolton ended a meeting between the U.S. and Ukraine when Sondland raised the topic of investigations.
Page 164: “When Ambassador Sondland raised investigations in the meeting, that triggered Ambassador Bolton’s antenna, political antenna, and he said, ‘we don’t do politics here.’
Mr. Taylor recounted to impeachment investigators how John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, suddenly ended a July 10 meeting with American and Ukrainian officials when Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, turned the discussion to investigations that Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani wanted the Ukrainians to pursue. Mr. Taylor said that he was not at the meeting, but he heard accounts from two people who were. At the time, Mr. Taylor was just weeks into his new job as the top diplomat in Ukraine, a position he hesitated to accept because of the circumstances around his predecessor’s removal.
Taylor kept detailed notes about his conversations on Ukraine.
Page 45-46: “I’ve always kept careful notes, and I keep a little notebook where I take notes on conversations, in particular when I’m not in the office. So, in meetings with Ukrainian officials or when I’m out and I get a phone call and I can — I keep notes.”
Later saying, “Handwritten notes that I take on a small, little spiral notebook in my office of phone calls that take place in my office.”
Mr. Taylor has become one of the star witnesses for the Democratic-led impeachment effort, appearing first in public hearings that will begin next week. That is partly because in his closed-door testimony, Mr. Taylor referred repeatedly to notes and memos, bolstering investigators’ confidence in his recollections. Those documents could provide new and potentially explosive avenues of investigation for Democrats as they march toward writing articles of impeachment.
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