The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday released the transcript of its closed door interview with Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine.
Why it matters: In his opening statement, Taylor told House investigators that he understood President Trump to be conditioning the release of military aid on the Ukrainian president's willingness to announce investigations into Trump's political rivals, including Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee.
- Taylor's testimony, which drew a direct line from congressionally approved military aid to Ukrainian interference in domestic U.S. politics, was met with allegations from the president that the longtime diplomat is a "Never Trumper."
- Taylor, a West Point graduate and Vietnam War veteran, has served in every administration since 1985 and was asked to return to serve as acting ambassador to Ukraine in May by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
- He was skeptical of accepting the job because he was worried that an irregular channel of foreign policy led by Rudy Giuliani would undermine U.S.-Ukraine relations.
What to watch: Taylor is scheduled to testify in open session next week as part of the impeachment inquiry's first public hearings.
Taylor testified that he first heard about military aid being tied to the investigations from National Security Council official Tim Morrison, who described a conversation EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland had with Ukrainian official Andrey Yermak.
He also said that Giuliani, representing Trump, was the architect of the idea to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to say publicly that he would open investigations into Burisma, a gas company with ties to Biden's son, and the 2016 election.
Taylor testified that the secretaries of Defense and State, the CIA director, and the national security advisor sought to get a meeting with Trump to discuss the Ukraine aid freeze, but that the meeting was too difficult to schedule.