For those in the media who constantly seek a smoking gun in their ongoing war with President Trump, the testimony of former Ambassador of the United States to Ukraine William Taylor may just be what they are looking for. Whether it is credible, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.
Once again, it appears that politicians of all stripes had to endure hours of testimony that in final summation really only gives the opinion of an individual who was neither connected to the situation nor had any insider knowledge. As Taylor himself makes pains to express, there were two channels of communication; one that he was privy to, and another that he was not.
He stated that it was his “clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the President [Zelensky] committed to pursue the investigation.” Yet messages exchanged between himself and the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, Gordon Sondland, suggests that Taylor had made an error in judgment.
“I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
Sondland was quick to reply:
“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s [sic] of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelenskiy promised during his campaign.”
Taylor’s testimony states again and again that he felt the Ukrainian government was being asked to do something. House Democrats say that this “something” was to provide dirt on Joe Biden. However, looking at the history of corruption in Ukraine and President Zelensky’s own actions upon assuming power, it is just as likely – if not more so – that the “something” could well have been to stick to promises regarding transparency.
What About Burisma?
Burisma Holdings is a major energy company in Ukraine that has been dogged by scandal for many years. The owner of Burisma is Mykola Vladislavovich Zlochevsky, a man who had to flee Ukraine on corruption charges in 2014 – coincidentally around the same time Hunter Biden joined the board.
More charges of graft and illegal enrichment followed. Yet Zlochevsky now apparently lives comfortably in Monaco, having mysteriously avoided not only official charges but also any media attention from the American press whatsoever.
Burisma is just one company though. And Ukraine is infamous for its high level of corporate and government corruption; in fact, pledges to clean up this corruption are one of the main reasons President Zelensky was elected. For a U.S. President to require assurances that the American tax dollars being sent be properly accounted for is certainly not a dereliction of duty.
This whole impeachment inquiry comes down to a very simple premise: Did Donald Trump withhold aid to Ukraine for the purposes of gathering political dirt? Nowhere in Taylor’s testimony does he suggest that Ukraine was even aware that aid was being delayed. How can there be a Quid Pro Quo when one party is unaware of a possible trade-off?
The whole inquiry will come down to the aforementioned premise. So far we have had testimonies from people who have no direct answer to that question. Unless Democrats can provide someone with concrete proof of their assertion, they may have made a huge, irreparable mistake.