Nov 13, 2019

Bill Taylor testifies that staffer overheard Trump discuss "the investigations" with Sondland

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told the House Intelligence Committee during its public impeachment hearing on Wednesday that a staffer overheard President Trump discuss "the investigations" in Ukraine with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland the day after Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Why it matters: This is a new piece of information from Taylor, who said that he was not aware of that information at the time of his closed-door deposition in October.

  • Taylor said that one of his staffers recently told him about an incident on July 26 in which the staffer overheard Sondland speaking with Trump where the president mentioned "the investigations."
  • Sondland later told the staffer that Trump cared more about "the investigations of Biden" than Ukraine itself, according to Taylor.

What Taylor said:

Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26. While Ambassador Volker and I visited the front, this member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland. Ambassador Sondland met with [Zelensky aide Andrey] Yermak.
Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kiev. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about “the investigations.” Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.
Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for. At the time I gave my deposition on October 22, I was not aware of this information. I am including it here for completeness. As the Committee knows, I reported this information through counsel to the State Department’s Legal Adviser, as well as to counsel for both the Majority and the Minority on the Committee. It is my understanding that the Committee is following up on this matter.

Go deeper: Follow along for live updates from Taylor's impeachment hearing

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Read Bill Taylor's opening statement in the impeachment hearing

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor is testifying in the House impeachment inquiry's first public hearing.

Driving the news: Taylor's opening statement included a new revelation that he said he learned from a staffer last Friday. The staffer overheard EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland discussing "investigations" in a phone call with Trump on July 26. When he asked Sondland what Trump thought of Ukraine, "Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for," Taylor said.

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Read Adam Schiff's opening statement in the Sondland impeachment hearing

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) set the stage Wednesday with his opening statement in the House impeachment inquiry's public hearing featuring EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

The big picture: Schiff used his time to summarize Sondland's diplomatic work regarding Ukraine throughout 2019 — which the ambassador confirmed was at the direction of President Trump — ultimately stating that "it will be up to us to decide, whether those acts are compatible with the office of the presidency."

Go deeperArrowNov 20, 2019

Trump denies discussing Ukraine investigations with Sondland in July phone call

During a press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, President Trump said he knows nothing about an alleged July 26 phone call with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland in which he is reported to have asked about the status of Ukrainian investigations he sought into the Bidens and the 2016 election.

Go deeperArrowNov 13, 2019