Near the end of his opening statement at Wednesday’s presidential impeachment hearings, William Taylor revealed new information about President Trump’s involvement in the scheme to get Ukraine to launch investigations into his political rivals that some have referred to as a “bombshell.”
Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said that a member of his staff overheard a phone call between Trump and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on the day after Trump’s now-infamous phone call with Ukraine’s president. In the July 26 call between Sondland and Trump, Taylor’s staff member told him that Sondland told the president that Ukraine’s leaders were prepared to move forward with “the investigations.” As Taylor told House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, the term “the investigations” was thought to refer to probes into Joe Biden and his son Hunter, along with a conspiracy theory about 2016 election hacking.
Taylor added some more damaging information. The staffer told Taylor that after Sondland got off the phone with Trump, he asked the ambassador what Trump thought of Ukraine. Sondland said “Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden,” according to Taylor, who pointed out that he learned this information only days ago and did not include it in his October 22 deposition to the committee.
Why does this revelation matter? Namely because it’s the clearest indication yet that Sondland was acting on direct orders from Trump when pressing Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
Democratic senator Chris Murphy tweeted the news isn’t really bombshell “because it just confirms what we already knew.” However, it does underscore that “Trump was directing all this, because … of course he was.”
According to NBC News, the staffer who overheard the phone call between Sondland and Trump was David Holmes, the counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. Holmes is scheduled to testify in a closed session Friday.
On Thursday, the AP reported that Holmes isn’t the only one to overhear the phone call. Suriya Jayanti, described as “a foreign service officer based in Kyiv,” also heard Trump and Sondland speaking about “the investigations.”