NEW YORK: The top US diplomat in Ukraine poured fuel on Donald Trump’s impeachment probe Tuesday with a detailed account of how the president pushed Kiev to discredit one of his main political rivals, withholding US military aid to exert pressure.
Democrats said the congressional testimony by Bill Taylor was a stunning confirmation of their allegations that Trump abused his office by seeking foreign help to hurt Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
“It’s all there. What’s there left for me to say when you have such a clear and detailed statement?” said House Democrat Tom Malinowski, a former diplomat.
The White House rejected what it called a “coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats.”
“Today was just more triple hearsay and selective leaks from the Democrats’ politically-motivated, closed door, secretive hearings,” the administration said in a statement.
“Every day this nonsense continues more taxpayer time and money is wasted.”
In a 15-page opening statement quickly leaked to US media, Taylor recounted in deep detail how Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, came under sustained pressure after taking office.
Taylor said he was told Trump wanted Zelensky “to state publicly” that he would investigate Biden and his son Hunter for what he said was corruption in the ex-Soviet republic.
He said the US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, told him that “’everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.”
Another carrot being dangled, Taylor said, was a proposed summit between Zelensky and Trump.
Emerging from the testimony, Democratic congressman Adriano Espaillat tweeted that “what I heard today from #BillTaylor was very troubling and explosive.”