U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor, during his deposition last month, identified the New York Times as the sole source of his claim that President Donald Trump wanted Ukraine to help him get dirt on Joe Biden, transcripts released Wednesday show.
Taylor suggested that Trump wanted Ukraine to launch investigations into corruption allegations against the former vice president and his son Hunter and potential U.S. election interference only to get information on his political rival Joe Biden.
The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Taylor, revealed that the Times was the only source for his reasoning.
Besides a New York Times article, “I have no other information from what the [U.S.] president was thinking,” he declared under questioning by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) during his October 22 deposition, given behind closed doors.
The transcripts of his testimony described the Zeldin-Taylor exchange as follow:
Zeldin: What was the goal of requesting investigations into 2016 election and [Ukrainian company that employed Hunter] Burisma?
Taylor: As I understand it from one of the maybe the article in the New York Times about [Trump’s private lawyer] Mr. [Rudy] Giuliani’s interest in Burisma, in that article, he describes, and I think he quotes Giuliani at some length, that article indicates that Giuliani was interested in getting some information on Vice President Biden that would be useful to Mr.Giuliani’s client. I think that’s what he says. He says he’s got one client, and he’s useful to the client.
Zeldin: And then it’s your inference that Mr. Giuliani’s goal would be the President’s goal?
Zeldin: And your source is the New York Times?
Zeldin: So do you have any other source that the President’s goal in making this request was anything other than the New York Times?
Taylor: I have not talked to the president. I have no other information from what the President was thinking.
Hunter Biden served on Burisma’s board of directors from 2014 until April of this year. The Obama administration cleared Hunter to work for the Ukrainian company despite having received warnings that the company was corrupt from a top U.S. State Department official.
The former vice president pushed Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor in 2016, who had been investigating Burisma, prompting corruption allegations.
Zeldin highlighted his exchange with Taylor on Twitter.
Star witness? Taylor said in depo he believed reason POTUS wanted Ukraine to investigate Ukrainians' interference w/ the 2016 election & Burisma was just to get dirt on Biden. He later admitted to me his sole source of info was…wait for it…The NY Times. pic.twitter.com/Yj6DUlkit7
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) November 6, 2019
House Democrats conducting the impeachment are trying to determine if Trump abused his power by allegedly coercing Ukraine into investigating Biden, his son, and potential 2016 U.S. election interference to benefit then-Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.
Taylor said he was not aware of news reports suggesting there was 2016 election interference at the hands of Ukrainian officials, adding that he did not even bother to seek out information to further his understanding of the allegations.
When asked to read some of those news reports during his deposition, he acknowledged some Ukrainian officials likely engaged in U.S. election interference, echoing written testimony from former American special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker.
“It’s disappointing,” Taylor testified on October 22, referring to the revelations in the news reports.
At the heart of the impeachment probe is a “whistleblower” complaint citing second-hand information accusing Trump of engaging in a quid pro quo in which he leveraged aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to investigate the Bidens.
Trump, Ukraine, and some impeachment inquiry witnesses have denied the claims. Meanwhile, however, other impeachment probe witnesses, including Taylor, have presumed that a quid pro quo took place based on second-hand information.