Dec 17, 2019

Report: Bill Taylor, top diplomat in Ukraine, set to leave post next year

Taylor testifies on Nov. 13. Photo: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, who gave explosive testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, is expected to leave his position at the start of 2020, the New York Times and AP report.

Why it matters: Taylor was "one of the most senior State Department officials to openly challenge" White House plans to withhold $391 million in security aid to Ukraine, per the Times.

What they're saying: Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and claimed Taylor is being recalled in the same vein as former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, per AP.

  • Rudy Giuliani told the New Yorker on Monday that he needed Yovanovitch "out of the way" since she was going to make the investigations of the Bidens and the 2016 election "difficult for everybody."
  • Prior to being recalled, Yovanovitch was the target of a smear campaign carried out by Giuliani and journalist John Solomon.

Flashback: Taylor told House investigators that he understood 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.

Go deeper: Highlights from Bill Taylor's public testimony

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Trump hits back at Mattis: "I gave him a new life"

President Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump unloaded on his former defense secretary via Twitter on Wednesday, hours after James Mattis condemned him for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in his response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What he's saying: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was 'Chaos', which I didn’t like, & changed it to 'Mad Dog'"

Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.

James Mattis condemns Trump as a threat to the Constitution

Mattis on Fox in Septemnber 2019 in New York City. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis condemned President Trump for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in a statement to The Atlantic on Wednesday, saying he was "appalled" at the president's response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Why it matters: Trump’s former defense secretary had refrained from publicly criticizing his former boss since resigning in 2018.