William B. Taylor Jr., United States ambassador to Ukraine (File pic)
William B. Taylor Jr., United States ambassador to Ukraine (File pic)

Trump cared more about Biden than Ukraine: Witnesses testify in first public hearing of impeachment probe

ANI | Updated: Nov 14, 2019 07:30 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Nov 14 (ANI): William B. Taylor Jr., the top United States diplomat in Ukraine and one of the most important witnesses for the Democrats' impeachment procedure against Donald Trump, on Wednesday (local time) claimed that the President cared more about an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden than he did about Ukraine.
The testimony from Taylor before the Committee provided new details about the President's personal involvement in the push for Ukraine to open investigations into his political rivals as Democrats began public impeachment hearings that could lead to the House voting to impeach a president for just the third time in US history, CNN reported.
Taylor testified that his aide told him of a phone conversation Trump had with Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, on July 26, a day after Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Taylor's aide, who was accompanying Sondland to meetings in Kiev with the Ukrainian officials, could hear Trump asking Sondland about the investigations, Taylor told the House Committee.
Sondland "told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward," Taylor said.
Taylor testified that his aide later asked Sondland what Trump thought of Ukraine.
"Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was pressing for," Taylor added.
Meanwhile, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff asked Taylor if Sondland's statement meant that Trump cared more about the investigations "than he does about Ukraine?"
"Yes, sir," Taylor responded.
The Democrats, in a historic step, kicked off the impeachment inquiry of Trump with public hearings that they hoped will show the public how the President abused the power of his office to obtain dirt on a potential 2020 rival while withholding vital security aid from Ukraine.
Wednesday's hearing is the first of five days of impeachment hearings House Democrats have scheduled before they decide whether to move forward with putting forward and potentially voting on articles of impeachment against the President.
Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, who also testified Wednesday, both received subpoenas to testify, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry, which also were issued before their closed-door depositions last month.
However, Republicans have argued that Taylor and Kent's testimony was all based on secondhand information, repeatedly pointing out they didn't speak to Trump, Mulvaney or Giuliani. And they argued that Ukraine ultimately received the US aid that had been frozen without opening an investigation.
"The transcript speaks for itself. There was no conditionality or quid pro quo in the transcript," said Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican added to the Intelligence Committee for the impeachment hearings.
"The two guys on the call have both been very clear, no pressure, no pushing, no linkage to investigations in both what President Zelensky and President Trump have said, and of course President Zelensky didn't pledge to do any investigations prior to the aid being released," Jordan added.
In his opening statement, Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, further accused the Democrats of undertaking a "scorched-earth war against President Trump," saying they were using a "carefully orchestrated media smear campaign" to impeach the President.
While the House was busing gathering evidences to impeach the US President, Trump was busy welcoming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodogan at the White House a month after Ankara's blatant offensive in northern Syria intended to drive out Kurds, the major allies of America in the fight against the Islamic State. (ANI)