Tuesday, October 22, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He attacked the "unelected bureaucrat" he appointed.

The current acting ambassador to Ukraine is Bill Taylor. Taylor was first appointed ambassador to Ukraine in 2006 by then-President George W. Bush, and returned to the role this summer after Trump fired Marie Yovanovitch under suspicious circumstances

Today, Taylor gave shocking testimony directly linking Trump to the decision to withhold legally appropriated military aid to Ukraine until its president "publicly" committed to investigating Trump's political rival, former vice-president Joe Biden. As Taylor put it in his opening statement:

[Trump political appointee] Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with President Zelenskyy was dependent on a public announcement of investigations. In fact, Ambassador Sondland said, "everything" was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelenskyy" in a public box” by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.
...Before these text messages, during our call on September 8, Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check. Ambassador Volker used the same terms several days later while we were together at the Yalta European Strategy Conference. I argued to both that the explanation made no sense: the Ukrainians did not "owe" President Trump anything, and holding up security assistance for domestic political gain was "crazy," as I had said in my text message to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker on September 9.

Taylor's revelations only confirm what Trump has all but admitted in other ways. But they are yet another complete refutation, from someone who witnessed events on the ground, of Trump's increasingly vocal insistence that there was "no quid pro quo."

In response, Trump dispatched Stephanie Grisham, the seldom-seen White House Press Secretary, to issue a statement calling Taylor a "radical unelected bureaucrat."

Taylor, who has served the United States in military and diplomatic roles for 50 years, was appointed to his "unelected bureaucrat" role as acting ambassador by Trump himself.

Why does this matter?

  • Calling people names doesn't make what they witnessed go away.
  • Trump hasn't actually denied anything Taylor said.