The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine claims there is a direct connection between congressionally approved military aid and Ukrainian interference in domestic U.S. politics — the quid pro quo that President Trump and his allies have long denied.
- Why it matters: Career public servants are increasingly undermining the Trump administration's all-out efforts to stymie the impeachment probe.
The big picture: U.S. envoy Bill Taylor's explosive testimony to House investigators today relied largely on his conversations with U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, Axios' Alayna Treene and Zachary Basu report.
- Taylor said the White House made clear that Ukraine wouldn't get military aid unless it promised to investigate natural gas company Burisma — aka investigate the Bidens — and alleged interference in the 2016 election.
- From Taylor's testimony: "Toward the end of an otherwise normal meeting, a voice on the call — the person was off-screen — said that she was from OMB and that her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending of security assistance for Ukraine until further notice. I and others sat in astonishment. ... All that the OMB staff person said was that the directive had come from the President to the Chief of Staff to OMB."
Between the lines: Taylor's testimony noted his concerns that there were two channels of U.S. policymaking toward Ukraine.
- Of special concern was the "irregular, informal" channel operated by Rudy Giuliani, special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Sondland.
Go deeper: Read Taylor's full opening statement
P.S.: The anonymous senior Trump administration official who authored an infamous New York Times op-ed against Trump last year has written a book. The release date is Nov. 19.