Taylor testimony decimates Trump’s ‘quid pro quo’ defense
Bill Taylor, center, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, arrives to the Capitol for a deposition related to the House's impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. | Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP

Back in the early 1970s, Nixon’s Watergate burglars broke into a Democratic Party campaign office and stole some files out of the cabinets inside.

This summer, three top Cabinet officials, the vice president, the president’s lawyer, and a bunch of international mobsters, working in tandem under the direction of President Trump, busted into and took over the U.S. government, grabbed the Constitution, and threw it out the window in order to further their own personal, political, and financial interests.

That, more than anything else, including the illegal twisting of the arm of the Ukrainian president, is the meaning of the testimony to Congress yesterday of Acting Ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor.

Yes, Taylor told Congress yesterday what they already knew—that Trump withheld military assistance to Ukraine in exchange for a promise by the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy that he would investigate the Bidens. His testimony also destroyed, however, the “no quid pro quo” defense so frequently used by the president and his GOP defenders in Congress. Taylor’s testimony shows there indeed was a quid pro quo and it was directly orchestrated by the president and carried out on different levels by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Attorney General William Barr, and Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland. Outside the government, the conspiracy was spearheaded by Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, and a group of international mobsters with whom Giuliani was working.

As a result of Taylor’s testimony, we now know Sondland perjured himself when he told Congress earlier this week that he had told Taylor Sept. 1 there was no quid pro quo because he believed what Trump had told him on a phone call.

Taylor put it quite differently yesterday: “During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelenskyy to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.” Burisma is the Ukrainian gas company where Hunter Biden served on the board of directors. Taylor said that Sondland told him “everything” Ukraine wanted, both a meeting with the White House and security aid, was contingent upon Zelenskyy making a public TV appearance announcing he was investigating the Bidens. The “security aid” Taylor was talking about was the $400 million in military “assistance” approved by Congress.

“President Trump wanted President Zelenskyy ‘in a public box,’” Taylor said he was told by Sondland.

Taylor testified yesterday about how he was kept in the dark after he took over from ousted Ambassador Maria Yavonivich and how he gradually learned of the role played by people in an “outside channel,” including Giuliani and the gangsters he was representing and the EU ambassador, Sondland. Also included in that group was Energy Secretary Perry.

The conspiratorial group consisting of the president, the vice president, and three cabinet officials took pains to make sure no one was documenting their conversations, avoiding emails and texting whenever possible and instead talking on the phone. Members of the group also took strides to avoid having those phone conversations documented, Taylor said.

Taylor testified that Sondland told him he wanted certain people to be excluded from a June phone call with Zelensky because he wanted to “make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring” anything being said.

Taylor also said he came to realize that a meeting between Trump and Zelenskyy would only happen if the Ukrainian president assented to Trump’s demand that he publicly announce an investigation of the Bidens.

The Taylor testimony exposes, at the very least, widespread lying in the administration. Vice President Pence, for example, has claimed that there was never a “quid pro quo,” but yet we now know he himself laid out that quid pro quo in a Sept.1 meeting with Zelenskyy.

We know that Energy Secretary Perry was interested in getting the Ukrainian government to put his and other pro-Trump people on the board of a publicly -owned Ukrainian gas company. In addition to Perry lining his own pockets with the gas company money, Trump was undoubtedly ready to join Perry and dip into yet another source from which he could enrich himself.

We know that Attorney General Barr was aware of this because the whole rotten conspiracy was referred to him for criminal investigation, and he decided there was nothing to investigate. Instead, he took off running around the world to investigate already discredited conspiracy theories about the 2016 elections. Only a day before Taylor’s testimony, in an obvious attempt to divert attention from what was coming, we heard news of how Barr was stepping up his phony investigation.

Those announcements and the president’s ploy two days ago to compare the impeachment inquiry to a “lynching” both seem to have failed to divert attention from the scandal, as majorities in recent polls seem to be supporting removal of Trump from office.

An inescapable conclusion from all of this, however, is that a criminal conspiracy such as this—operating across all the branches of government—is unlikely to have been put in place simply to twist the arm of the Ukrainian president into making a pro-Trump TV appearance about the Bidens.

It is the modus operandi, the method of operation, of this administration. It is a government-wide conspiracy put together by Trump and his associates. It is so perfect for them. Is it criminal? It doesn’t matter! The Attorney General, the highest law enforcement officer in the land, is part of the deal, so no need to worry!

Why are they conspiring this way? Why has the GOP bought into all of this? They do it to pursue their numerous horrible but related right-wing agendas: promoting racism, voter suppression, terror against immigrants, attacks on labor rights and women’s rights, stacking the courts with right-wing ideologues, and so much more. They do it to promote an ongoing rip-off both here and abroad of the public sector for the benefit of their pals. Give our national parks to the frackers and mining companies and turn over Ukraine’s public gas company to Trump and his gangster pals. All the more money for them to illegally launder through his real estate holdings!

Trump’s burglars are far worse than the Watergate burglars were in the last century. In order to enrich themselves, the Trump burglars have broken into our government to grab our Constitution and destroy it. Impeachment and removal from office is the medicine needed to stop them. A determination to fight for democracy and a host of new laws will be needed, however, to come up with a vaccine that will prevent this from ever happening again.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.