Top diplomat in Ukraine directly ties Trump to quid pro quo

Access to the comments Comments
By Adam Edelman  with NBC News Politics
Image: Former Ukraine Ambassador William Taylor leaves a closed door meetin
Former Ukraine Ambassador William Taylor leaves a closed door meeting on Capitol Hill on Oct. 22, 2019.   -  Copyright  Andrew Harnik AP

The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, told House impeachment investigators last month that President Donald Trump directed officials to tie military aid to Ukraine to demands that the country open political advantageous probes, according to a transcript of his testimony made public Wednesday.

The transcript of Taylor's closed-door testimony before the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into Trump — the latest in a series of witness transcripts made public — confirms NBC News' reportingabout his more than nine hours of testimony last month. It also contains new details about the language he used in describing the White House's attempted quid pro quo with Ukraine that shed light on his level of concern about the matter.

For example, Taylor said he and others "sat in astonishment" as a White House Office of Management and Budget official said during a July 18 inter-agency call that Trump had ordered a hold on military assistance to Ukraine, according to the transcript.

As NBC News reported in October after he first testified, Taylor stated in plain and clear language that he felt the military aid to Ukraine had been directly tied to Ukraine opening investigations into former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden as well as a conspiracy related to the 2016 election.

"That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the president [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation," Taylor said, according to the transcript.

He was then asked if he was "aware that quid pro quo literally means this for that?"

"I am," Taylor replied.

Taylor also quoted himself as telling another diplomat that it would be a "nightmare" if the Trump administration withheld the military aid even if Ukraine committed to the desired investigations.

"The Russians love it. And I quit," should that hypothetical scenario unfold, he said.