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Bill Taylor is Donald Trump's impeachment nightmare

The top US diplomat to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, addressed the House Intelligence Committee with a 40-minute opening statement and described an "irregular channel" of communication with Ukraine.

Posted: Dec 19, 2019 1:40 PM
Updated: Dec 19, 2019 1:40 PM

Bill Taylor was everything Democrats hoped he would be. And everything Republicans feared he might be.

Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, was credible, serious, frank and deeply specific during his day-long testimony on Capitol Hill about his concerns regarding President Donald Trump's behavior toward top Ukrainian officials.

Taylor's opening statement, which spanned better than a half hour, was a tour de force of damaging details for the President -- culminating in a new revelation that an aide had overheard US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland on the phone with the President on July 26 making clear that the Ukrainians were prepared to play ball. And that, when asked about Trump's views on Ukraine, Sondland had told the aide that the President was primarily focused on getting investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden started.

Democrats, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (California) largely just used their question time to allow Taylor to confirm and/or restate the timeline of events he laid out in scrupulous detail in his opening statement. How he first heard of the hold put on more than $400 million in US aid to Ukraine. How he realized that an "irregular" diplomatic channel -- led by Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani -- had been opened up with Ukraine. How it became increasingly clear to him that Trump and those close to the President were seeking to leverage the political power of the United States to pressure a foreign country to dig up dirt on a possible 2020 rival.

Republicans on the committee did their best to disrupt the momentum that Taylor's opening statement had created by noting that all of his concerns were based on things conveyed to him second- and third-hand, and that because nothing ever came of these asks from Trump -- and Ukraine got the aid anyway -- that this was all a big nothingburger.

The GOP interrogators had limited success -- Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan's rapid-fire questioning strategy was probably the most effective -- because Taylor simply would not be ruffled. He repeatedly told Republicans that he wasn't there to make broad proclamations about whether the President deserved to be impeached or to speak for experiences from other people. He admitted there were things he didn't know. He was candid and honest.

In short: Taylor was deeply credible. Not just for what he said but for who he is -- a lifelong diplomat appointed by presidents of both parties to senior diplomatic circles. At the top of his graduating class from the US Military Academy at West Point, and a decorated Vietnam veteran.

Trump has -- and will -- accuse anyone who testifies in the House impeachment hearings as a "Never Trumper" or a member of the so-called "deep state" or worse. And there will be a decent chunk of his base that swallows those descriptions whole -- facts be damned.

But it's very difficult to read Taylor's opening statement, watch any of his testimony or scan his resume and believe that this accomplished but unassuming man is somehow motivated by his hatred of Trump rather than his love of country. This is someone with long and deep experience in diplomatic circles. Someone who has never been an irritant in the past. And someone who was deeply affected by what he saw and heard around that July 25 phone call.

So, when Taylor said Wednesday that he had never -- in his career -- seen this sort of blatant attempt to use the power of the presidency for personal political gain, it meant something. And nothing good for Trump.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312608

Reported Deaths: 7221
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21429257
Hinds20256414
Harrison17776308
Rankin13539278
Jackson13395246
Madison10051217
Lee9956173
Jones8364163
Forrest7633152
Lauderdale7215240
Lowndes6359144
Lamar620286
Lafayette6162118
Washington5320133
Bolivar4796132
Oktibbeha460398
Panola4545104
Pearl River4495145
Marshall4387103
Warren4368120
Pontotoc419372
Monroe4089133
Union408776
Neshoba4028176
Lincoln3939110
Hancock376686
Leflore3484125
Sunflower335290
Tate331684
Pike3290105
Scott314873
Alcorn310768
Yazoo310269
Itawamba299377
Copiah295865
Coahoma293979
Simpson293788
Tippah287268
Prentiss278560
Marion268680
Leake264973
Wayne262241
Grenada259985
Adams259882
Covington256281
Newton246961
George246748
Winston226981
Tishomingo225067
Jasper220748
Attala214273
Chickasaw207057
Holmes188672
Clay184654
Stone181433
Clarke178179
Tallahatchie177840
Calhoun169532
Yalobusha162936
Smith162034
Walthall133745
Greene130233
Lawrence128223
Noxubee126834
Montgomery126742
Perry126038
Amite123442
Carroll121628
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104626
Claiborne102130
Benton99025
Humphreys96133
Kemper95628
Franklin83323
Quitman79616
Choctaw75818
Wilkinson66830
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 528784

Reported Deaths: 10913
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson762251516
Mobile40864804
Madison34569501
Tuscaloosa25646451
Montgomery24264585
Shelby23355246
Baldwin20993306
Lee15800168
Calhoun14457312
Morgan14250279
Etowah13796352
Marshall12166222
Houston10506280
Elmore10017205
Limestone9935150
Cullman9617193
St. Clair9584237
Lauderdale9397238
DeKalb8813185
Talladega8183175
Walker7205279
Autauga6910107
Jackson6793110
Blount6621135
Colbert6282134
Coffee5491115
Dale4810111
Russell437938
Chilton4244111
Franklin423882
Covington4105117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia392675
Chambers3545123
Dallas3536150
Clarke350360
Marion3092100
Pike309177
Lawrence299698
Winston273572
Bibb259763
Marengo248564
Geneva247075
Pickens233559
Barbour230256
Hale221776
Butler215469
Fayette211962
Henry188544
Cherokee183845
Randolph179241
Monroe176240
Washington166839
Macon158649
Clay153356
Crenshaw151657
Cleburne148341
Lamar141234
Lowndes138453
Wilcox126528
Bullock122941
Conecuh110028
Perry107526
Coosa106828
Sumter104132
Greene92234
Choctaw60324
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