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Diplomat Bill Taylor, who called Trump's Ukraine policy 'crazy,' testifies in impeachment inquiry

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By Rebecca Shabad with NBC News Politics
Image: William Taylor
US Ambassador in Ukraine William Taylor speaks during a briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine on July 27, 2019.   -   Copyright  Inna Sokolovska AP file
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WASHINGTON — The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, is set to testify Tuesday behind closed doors as part of House Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Lawmakers are expected to question him about text messages between him and two other American diplomats about the Trump administration's policy toward Ukraine.

Taylor's deposition was expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. before the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees.

As part of text messages between Taylor, U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and the now-former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, Taylor expressed concern about why U.S. military assistance for Ukraine was held up by the White House.

"As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," Taylor texted Sondland on Sept. 9, according to text messages provided to Congress by Volker and released by the committees involved in the inquiry.

Democrats have pointed to the text exchange, a critical piece of the impeachment investigation, as part of burgeoning body of proof that there was a quid pro quo involved between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump held up the military aid in exchange for Ukraine agreeing to conduct probes that would be politically advantageous to Trump.

Taylor came out of retirement in June to serve as chargé d'affaires in Kyiv after Marie Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled from her post as ambassador to Ukraine in the spring.

Yovanovitch, Sondland and Volker are among the key witnesses who have already testified in the impeachment inquiry.

Yovanovitch, a career diplomat, told impeachment investigators in a depositionthat lasted more than 9 hours that Trump had personally pressured the State Department to remove her, even though a top department official assured her that she had "done nothing wrong."