Rep. Jim Jordan grilled Ambassador Bill Taylor during Wednesday’s impeachment hearing, refuting his suggestion that President Donald Trump demanded a quid pro quo from Ukraine.
During one exchange, Jordan, an Ohio Republican, pointed out that Taylor had limited knowledge of Trump’s dealings with Kyiv and had never had a meeting with the president.
“You didn’t listen in on President Trump and Zelensky’s call?” asked Jordan, referring to the July 25 call that spurred Democrats to launch the impeachment inquiry.
“I did not,” Taylor conceded.
“You’ve never talked with Chief of Staff [Mick] Mulvaney?”
“I never did.”
“You’ve never met the president?”
.@Jim_Jordan: You didn’t listen in on President Trump & Zelensky’s call?
Taylor: I did not.
Jordan: You’ve never talked with Chief of Staff Mulvaney?
Taylor: I never did.
Jordan: You’ve never met the President?
Taylor: That’s correct.
Jordan: And you’re their star witness. pic.twitter.com/ebZ6jsEjeB
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) November 13, 2019
Jim Jordan tells Bill Taylor he’s flat-out wrong
During the hearing, which kicked off the public stage of the impeachment inquiry launched on Sept. 25, Taylor testified in support of the alleged quid pro quo at the heart of the proceedings. According to Democrats, Trump’s temporary withholding of military aid to Ukraine was meant to pressure Zelensky to announce investigations related to Joe Biden and other domestic political opponents of the president.
However, Jordan noted that Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, had met with Zelensky three times in the company of other U.S. officials without hearing any talk of such an understanding. Not only that, the military aid was ultimately delivered — following an Aug. 12 whistleblower complaint about the July 25 call — and Zelensky never opened any investigations, Jordan said.
“You had three meetings again with Zelenksy and it didn’t come up … and President Zelensky never made an announcement. … and you’re their star witness,” he said. “Three meetings with the president of Ukraine and no linkage. That’s accurate?”
Taylor responded that Jordan was “certainly accurate on the first two meetings,” and then, after a pause, added that the congressman was right about the last meeting as well.
— ForAmerica (@ForAmerica) November 13, 2019
Jordan repeated: “President Zelensky had to commit to an investigation of the Bidens before the aid got released and the aid got released and he didn’t commit to an investigation.”
Taylor objected the he was just reporting what he had heard from other people.
“I was not wrong about what I told you because that is what I heard,” he said. “That’s all I’ve said, I’ve told you what I heard.”
At that point, Jordan called out Taylor for contradicting his previous testimony, including in a closed-door Oct. 22 hearing, where he claimed personal knowledge of a quid pro quo. Jordan said it was time to admit that Taylor was simply wrong on the facts.
“What you heard did not happen. It didn’t happen,” he said. “You had three meetings with the guy, he could have told you, he didn’t announce that he was going to do an investigation before the aid happened.”
“It’s not just could it have been wrong, the fact is, it was wrong, because it didn’t happen.” Jordan continued. “The whole point was, you had a clear understanding that aid will not get released unless there is a commitment, not maybe, not I think the aid might happen, not it’s my hunch it’s going to get released, you used clear language, clear understanding and commitment and those two things didn’t happen, so you had to be wrong.”
“Mr. Jordan, the other thing that went on when that assistance was on hold is we shook the confidence of a close partner in our reliability,” Taylor responded.
Jordan fired back, “That’s not what this proceeding is about, ambassador. That is not what this whole thing started on.”
Jim Jordan presses Bill Taylor about aid being released to Ukraine without any investigations having been announced pic.twitter.com/SLlso6llW2
— Axios (@axios) November 13, 2019
No ties to Trump
A number of other U.S. officials have testified that Sondland discussed the quid pro quo, including with Ukraine, and the E.U. ambassador confirmed as much in a Nov. 4 amendment to his testimony. Trump also brought up the investigations after Zelensky mentioned military aid on their phone call. But Sondland said he did not actually know why military aid was withheld, and Democrats have so far failed to prove Trump made the aid conditional.
The next public hearing is scheduled for Friday.