America’s top Ukraine diplomat has testified that Donald Trump made the release of military aid to the country conditional on investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election being announced, contradicting White House denials.
William Taylor told the impeachment inquiry that he was informed Mr Trump wanted the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to personally announce the investigations, because such a statement would put him in a “public box”.
The explosive testimony, which was delivered in a 15-page opening statement, directly challenges Mr Trump’s claim that he made no “quid pro quo” in holding back the aid to secure probes that were politically helpful.
Elsewhere Mr Taylor laid out the deep disquiet he and other US officials felt at Mr Trump’s decision to hold back almost $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine for more than a month as he pushed for the investigations.
Mr Taylor said he “sat in astonishment” upon hearing that no more spending on military assistance was going to be approved, noting later that “more Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without the US assistance.”
He also claimed that four US cabinet members – the defence secretary, secretary of state, CIA director and national security adviser – all tried to see Mr Trump to convince him to stop holding back the aid, but found the meeting was “hard to schedule”.