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Bill Taylor is Donald Trump's impeachment nightmare

The top US diplomat to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, addressed the House Intelligence Committee with a 40-minute opening statement and described an "irregular channel" of communication with Ukraine.

Posted: Dec 19, 2019 2:40 PM
Updated: Dec 19, 2019 2:40 PM

Bill Taylor was everything Democrats hoped he would be. And everything Republicans feared he might be.

Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, was credible, serious, frank and deeply specific during his day-long testimony on Capitol Hill about his concerns regarding President Donald Trump's behavior toward top Ukrainian officials.

Taylor's opening statement, which spanned better than a half hour, was a tour de force of damaging details for the President -- culminating in a new revelation that an aide had overheard US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland on the phone with the President on July 26 making clear that the Ukrainians were prepared to play ball. And that, when asked about Trump's views on Ukraine, Sondland had told the aide that the President was primarily focused on getting investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden started.

Democrats, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (California) largely just used their question time to allow Taylor to confirm and/or restate the timeline of events he laid out in scrupulous detail in his opening statement. How he first heard of the hold put on more than $400 million in US aid to Ukraine. How he realized that an "irregular" diplomatic channel -- led by Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani -- had been opened up with Ukraine. How it became increasingly clear to him that Trump and those close to the President were seeking to leverage the political power of the United States to pressure a foreign country to dig up dirt on a possible 2020 rival.

Republicans on the committee did their best to disrupt the momentum that Taylor's opening statement had created by noting that all of his concerns were based on things conveyed to him second- and third-hand, and that because nothing ever came of these asks from Trump -- and Ukraine got the aid anyway -- that this was all a big nothingburger.

The GOP interrogators had limited success -- Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan's rapid-fire questioning strategy was probably the most effective -- because Taylor simply would not be ruffled. He repeatedly told Republicans that he wasn't there to make broad proclamations about whether the President deserved to be impeached or to speak for experiences from other people. He admitted there were things he didn't know. He was candid and honest.

In short: Taylor was deeply credible. Not just for what he said but for who he is -- a lifelong diplomat appointed by presidents of both parties to senior diplomatic circles. At the top of his graduating class from the US Military Academy at West Point, and a decorated Vietnam veteran.

Trump has -- and will -- accuse anyone who testifies in the House impeachment hearings as a "Never Trumper" or a member of the so-called "deep state" or worse. And there will be a decent chunk of his base that swallows those descriptions whole -- facts be damned.

But it's very difficult to read Taylor's opening statement, watch any of his testimony or scan his resume and believe that this accomplished but unassuming man is somehow motivated by his hatred of Trump rather than his love of country. This is someone with long and deep experience in diplomatic circles. Someone who has never been an irritant in the past. And someone who was deeply affected by what he saw and heard around that July 25 phone call.

So, when Taylor said Wednesday that he had never -- in his career -- seen this sort of blatant attempt to use the power of the presidency for personal political gain, it meant something. And nothing good for Trump.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 918230

Reported Deaths: 15011
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1252491952
Lake623371084
Allen52301746
Hamilton43009443
St. Joseph41155584
Elkhart32831485
Vanderburgh29698436
Tippecanoe26442247
Johnson23106414
Hendricks21708338
Porter21255340
Clark16988222
Madison16899378
Vigo15562272
Monroe14186190
LaPorte13961235
Delaware13613215
Howard13531258
Kosciusko11150134
Hancock10534159
Warrick10431174
Bartholomew10233166
Floyd10099202
Wayne9557216
Grant8858194
Morgan8654158
Boone8231109
Dubois7521123
Henry7391126
Dearborn734186
Noble7208100
Marshall7168127
Cass7060117
Lawrence6803150
Jackson638980
Shelby6386106
Gibson5999105
Harrison587984
Huntington586490
Montgomery5663101
DeKalb555691
Knox532999
Miami523183
Clinton522464
Putnam519067
Whitley509851
Steuben480267
Wabash470192
Jasper465760
Jefferson456091
Ripley439074
Adams435565
Daviess4008106
Scott389563
White383457
Decatur376895
Clay376455
Greene375589
Wells375183
Fayette363074
Posey351841
Jennings341756
Washington324046
LaGrange312074
Spencer310734
Fountain306553
Randolph302087
Sullivan294947
Owen275961
Orange269659
Starke268961
Fulton264451
Jay248134
Perry244950
Carroll239926
Franklin229337
Vermillion225850
Rush225530
Parke212020
Tipton205354
Pike200938
Blackford163834
Pulaski155250
Crawford140818
Benton138316
Newton138141
Brown130646
Martin124416
Switzerland122310
Warren112616
Union92211
Ohio75811
Unassigned0461

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1319265

Reported Deaths: 21265
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1480641537
Cuyahoga1311202313
Hamilton948871307
Montgomery647451122
Summit548531041
Lucas49502853
Butler45993649
Stark39954963
Lorain30438525
Warren29170326
Mahoning25988629
Clermont24726278
Lake24088411
Delaware21722140
Licking19822239
Fairfield19780218
Greene19671266
Medina19208285
Trumbull19195506
Clark17188321
Portage15585224
Richland15540228
Wood15187208
Allen13654254
Miami13283244
Muskingum11821148
Wayne11448234
Columbiana11100239
Tuscarawas10388264
Marion10273144
Pickaway10162128
Scioto9766124
Erie9479170
Ross8979172
Lawrence8225116
Hancock8105140
Ashtabula8083184
Geauga7976155
Belmont7791183
Jefferson7093168
Huron7087125
Union703549
Washington6823116
Athens666163
Sandusky6608132
Darke6394135
Knox6308120
Seneca6113135
Auglaize569888
Ashland5631110
Shelby555799
Mercer545188
Brown533067
Defiance5278100
Madison527368
Crawford5148113
Highland514876
Fulton508781
Clinton505379
Logan494582
Preble4788110
Putnam4733106
Guernsey439057
Williams437281
Champaign426463
Ottawa425783
Perry414051
Jackson402259
Pike367140
Morrow359149
Fayette353951
Coshocton345064
Hardin341868
Adams338864
Gallia329254
Holmes3148107
Henry312668
Van Wert299269
Hocking280467
Wyandot271858
Carroll250451
Paulding231742
Meigs197842
Monroe178649
Noble160340
Morgan153528
Harrison145740
Vinton130217
Unassigned05
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