Diplomat who raised alarm about withholding aid to Ukraine testifies in impeachment probe

Taylor, a retired former ambassador to Ukraine and a foreign policy elder statesman, had exchanged text messages with two other diplomats in which he called it “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign” and a “nightmare scenario.”

His testimony may fill in some blanks about the activities of U.S. officials who appear to have sought Ukrainian help at the behest of Trump and his personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani Jr., although it was not clear how much Taylor knew.

Taylor agreed to go to Kyiv as a placeholder ambassador because he thought the U.S.-Ukraine relationship was at a critical moment following the election last spring of President Volodymyr Zelensky, other diplomats said. He also told friends he worried that the relationship would drift after the forced recall of former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and he made it clear within the State Department that he objected to her treatment, current and former administration officials said.

Taylor is a potentially damaging witness for Trump, because he appears to have no political or personal incentive to protect the administration. Unlike other State Department witnesses, he has neither his government career nor his personal standing with Trump at stake.

Taylor is expected to return to his senior position at the U.S. Institute for Peace sometime next year.

His is the first of two planned closed-door depositions this week.

Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense whose portfolio includes Russia and Ukraine, will testify in a closed session Wednesday, according to an official working on the process.

Several other closed-door depositions will be rescheduled this week due to events honoring the late congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the official said.

House investigators were expected to hear from Ambassador Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, and Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget — but those depositions will no longer take place Wednesday, according to the official.

In a Monday tweet, however, Office of Management and Budget acting director Russ Vought said he and Duffey would not comply with deposition requests. Reports indicating otherwise, he wrote, were “Fake News.” His tweet included the hashtag “#shamprocess.”

Trump urged his party on Monday to “get tougher and fight” against his impeachment as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) distributed a “fact sheet” outlining what her office called a gross abuse of presidential power, including a “shakedown,” “pressure campaign” and “cover up.”

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