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An Envoy’s Damning Account of Trump’s Ukraine Pressure and Its Consequences


Yet in the publicly released portion of his testimony, Mr. Taylor neither described any direct conversation with Mr. Trump himself nor made any reference to documents or recordings that would explicitly implicate the president. Instead, he provided a road map for investigators by quoting others around Mr. Trump describing his actions and statements.

“President Trump has done nothing wrong — this is a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution,” Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “There was no quid pro quo. Today was just more triple hearsay and selective leaks from the Democrats’ politically motivated, closed-door, secretive hearings.”

Mr. Taylor’s testimony once again focused attention on Mr. Trump’s unusual relationship with President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia. Unlike most leaders in both parties, Mr. Trump has rarely expressed much criticism of Mr. Putin or his aggression against his neighbors, at one point even suggesting that he could accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine through force in 2014.

Mr. Trump went further than Mr. Obama by providing lethal military assistance to Ukraine to defend itself against Russia, but privately echoed Mr. Putin’s line about the Ukrainians being untrustworthy and corrupt. By holding up the $391 million in aid allocated by Congress, Mr. Trump essentially reversed his own policy and angered lawmakers of both parties, who finally pressured him into releasing the money last month.

Mr. Trump’s decisions benefiting Russia confound Democrats and Republicans alike. Even as Mr. Taylor testified, Mr. Putin hosted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey in Moscow to seal an agreement in which Russian troops will join Turkish forces to control a swath of northern Syria just abandoned by American-backed Kurdish fighters after Mr. Trump abruptly abandoned them and pulled out United States troops.

In his 14-page opening statement, bristling with indignation yet chock-full of dates, facts and quotes, Mr. Taylor on Tuesday described “two channels of U.S. policymaking and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular,” run largely by the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, as well as others like Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union.

Mr. Taylor made clear that what he found particularly egregious about the president’s actions was what he regarded as the betrayal of a friend to the not-so-tender mercies of a ruthless invader for corrupt reasons.


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