Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who was moved to the Intelligence Committee by House GOP leaders specifically to grill witnesses in the public impeachment hearings took his task seriously Wednesday.
He tore into Acting U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine William Taylor over his testimony on whether there was any linkage between withholding of the funds and a public announcement of an Ukraine investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden.
Jordan noted, during almost two months while U.S. aid to Ukraine was delayed, Taylor met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy three times and the hold was never mentioned.
There was "no linkage," Jordan said.
"I can't believe and you are their star witness; you are their first witness; you are the guy," the Ohio Republican said.
Taylor testified he first heard July 18 that aid was held up to Ukraine, and then it was released Sept. 11.
"We know that from your deposition in those 55 days that aid is delayed, you met with President (Volodymyr) Zelinskiy three times," Jordan said. "The first one was July 26th, the day after the famous call between President Trump and President Zelenskiy. Zelenskiy meets with you, Amb. (Kurt) Volker and Amb. (Gordon) Ssondland and again, according to your deposition and your testimony, there was no linkage of security assistance dollars to investigating Burisma or the Bidens."
The questions came after Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified his staff told him they heard President Donald Trump speaking to Sondland at a restaurant the day after Trump's July 25 phone call with Zelinskiy.
There was also a meeting Aug. 27 with Zelenskiy, Taylor, and then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, and there was still no linkage between aid and an investigation, said Jordan, and then Sept. 5, another meeting was held between the Ukraine president and Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and still no "linkage," Jordan said.
"Three meetings, face to face, with President Zelenskiy, no linkage," Jordan said. "Yet, in your deposition, you said this and you said it again the first hour, 'my clear understanding was security assistance money would not come until President Zelenskiy committed to pursue the investigation,' so I'm wondering, where did you get this clear understanding . . . and president Zelenskiy never made an announcement? This is what I can't believe, and you are their star witness."
Taylor told Jordan he had gotten his "clear understanding" from Sondland, who had also said he had spoken with Zelenskiy and his aide, Andrey Yermak, telling them, "although there was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelenskiy did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate that was one point."
He added Sondland also told him he "recognized that it was a mistake to have told the Ukrainians that only a meeting with the president and in the Oval Office was held up in order to get these investigations. It was not just the meeting. It was also the security assistance. That is everything."
Taylor also said he does not consider himself a "star witness for anything," or that he was there to advocate for any specific outcome.
"I think Mr. Jordan, the way I read, this he remembers it the same way I do," Taylor said. "It's very clear to me."
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