An Envoy’s Damning Account of Trump’s Ukraine Pressure and Its Consequences

The chain of events that Mr. Taylor laid out in his testimony suggested a clear quid pro quo between $391 million in suspended assistance and Mr. Trump’s demands that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as well as a debunked conspiracy theory involving Ukrainian help for Democrats in the 2016 election.

Yet in the publicly released portion of his testimony, Mr. Taylor neither described any direct conversation with Mr. Trump himself nor made any reference to documents or recordings that would explicitly implicate the president. Instead, he provided a road map for investigators by quoting others around Mr. Trump describing his actions and statements.

“President Trump has done nothing wrong — this is a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution,” Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “There was no quid pro quo. Today was just more triple hearsay and selective leaks from the Democrats’ politically motivated, closed-door, secretive hearings.”

Mr. Taylor’s testimony once again focused attention on Mr. Trump’s unusual relationship with President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia. Unlike most leaders in both parties, Mr. Trump has rarely expressed much criticism of Mr. Putin or his aggression against his neighbors, at one point even suggesting that he could accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine through force in 2014.

Mr. Trump went further than Mr. Obama by providing lethal military assistance to Ukraine to defend itself against Russia, but privately echoed Mr. Putin’s line about the Ukrainians being untrustworthy and corrupt. By holding up the $391 million in aid allocated by Congress, Mr. Trump essentially reversed his own policy and angered lawmakers of both parties, who pressured him into releasing the money last month.

In his 14-page opening statement, bristling with indignation yet chock-full of dates, facts and quotes, Mr. Taylor described “two channels of U.S. policymaking and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular,” run largely by the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, as well as others like Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union.

Mr. Taylor made clear that what he found particularly egregious about the president’s actions was what he regarded as the betrayal of a friend to the not-so-tender mercies of a ruthless invader for corrupt reasons.

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