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Trump’s Impeachment: Sondland Called US President in Presence of Zelenskyy Aid – William Taylor
13 November, 2019
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Charge d’Affairs ad interim William Taylor at the U.S. Congress on November 13. EPA-EFE/JOSHUA ROBERTS/POOL

On the next day following the phone between U.S. President Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, July 26, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland spoke with U.S. President Trump while in the presence of Zelenskyy advisor Andriy Yermak.

That’s according to the Charge d’Affaires ad interim William Taylor, who was serving as the de facto acting ambassador of the U.S. to Ukraine, during public hearings of an impeachment hearing, looking into Donald Trump.

Ambassador Taylor did not state this information during his earlier closed deposition to Congress in October due to Taylor’s claim that he only received this information from an unnamed US embassy staff member on November 8.

“Last Friday, a member of my staff  told me of events that occurred on July 26. While Ambassador Volker and I visited the front, a member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland. Ambassador Sondland met with Mister Yermak. Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff, at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for,” said Taylor. 

Taylor noted that the first time he learned what the U.S. and Ukrainian presidents spoke about on their July 25 phone call was when the transcript was released. But he said that before that, he had “heard that Volker and Sondland used the term investigations as a code word for investigating the Biden family and the Burisma company.”

Taylor repeated what he’d said during his October testimony: that on September 11, when he’d learned that military aid to Ukraine was no longer delayed, he immediately relayed this information to Zelenskyy and Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko.

“I again reminded Mr. Yermak of the high strategic value of bipartisan support for Ukraine, and the importance of not getting involved in other countries' elections. My fear at the time was that since Ambassador Sondland has told me that President Zelenskyy had already agreed to do a CNN interview, President Zelenskyy would make a statement regarding investigations that would have played into domestic U.S. politics. I sought to confirm through Mr. Danylyuk that President Zelenskyy was not planning to give such an interview to the media. While Mr. Danylyuk initially confirmed that on September 12, I noticed during a meeting on the morning of September 13 at President Zelenskyy’s office, that Mister Yermak looked uncomfortable in response to the question,” said Ambassador Taylor.

READ MORE: What Trump’s New Scandal Means for Ukraine