Impeachment Misfire: William Taylor’s Smokeless Gun
David Catron
by
William Taylor, on his way to his secret hearing (YouTube screenshot)

Since late Tuesday the nation has been deafened by media outlets declaring that diplomat William Taylor provided “damning” congressional testimony involving President Trump’s actions toward Ukraine. The New York Times, for example, produced this breathless headline: “Donald Trump’s Quid Pro Quo Is Now a Smoking Gun.” Evidently, the “reporters” responsible for this story failed to read Taylor’s opening statement. It consists almost entirely of hearsay, shows that he wasn’t on the fabled phone call between presidents Trump and Zelensky, and confirms that he was assured by high-ranking Trump administration officials that the president sought no quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine in exchange for aid:

On September 7, I had a conversation with Mr. [Tim] Morrison [the head of the White House National Security Council’s Eurasia desk] in which he described a phone conversation earlier that day between Ambassador Sondland [the U.S. ambassador to the European Union].… According to Morrison, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland that he was not asking for a “quid pro quo.”

William Taylor is, for the time being at least, the acting United States envoy to Ukraine. The 15-page opening statement  he read aloud before taking questions from committee members reveals more about Taylor’s role in the metastasizing administrative state than any offense committed by President Trump. It contains, for example, a considerable amount of kvetching about the way Trump’s administration was managing its relationship with the new Zelensky government: “I found a confusing and unusual arrangement for making U.S. policy towards Ukraine.” Anyone with experience in large bureaucracies will recognize this standard complaint of all such functionaries when faced with change. Taylor is typical of the breed:

On May 28 of this year I met with Secretary Mike Pompeo who asked me to return to Kyiv to lead our embassy in Ukraine.… During my meeting with Secretary Pompeo on May 28, I made clear to him and the others present that if U.S. policy toward Ukraine changed, he would not want me posted there and I could not stay.

But there may be more to Taylor’s aversion to policy changes than mere bureaucratic inertia. He may have personal objections to President Trump’s encouragement of an investigation by the Zelensky government into possible corruption involving a Ukrainian energy company. Taylor says in his statement that he was “alarmed” when informed that the company in question was Burisma. It isn’t clear why this would cause him such concern. As a former ambassador to Ukraine, he is surely aware of the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, negotiated 20 years ago, whereby Ukraine must cooperate in certain U.S. investigations. He may, however, have personal reasons to wring his hands about such joint inquiries.

Taylor’s opening statement indicates that, subsequent to his replacement by erstwhile President Obama as the ambassador to Ukraine, “I have stayed engaged with Ukraine, visiting frequently since 2013 as a board member of a small Ukrainian non-governmental organization supporting good governance and reform.” As Breitbart reports, however, there is more to this story than the promotion of good governance. The small non-governmental organization, the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council, has close ties with an entity called the Atlantic Council, which happens to be funded by everyone’s favorite Ukrainian energy company — Burisma Holdings. Taylor, like Hunter Biden, has been a beneficiary of Burisma largesse:

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, who provided key testimony to the Democrats’ controversial impeachment inquiry yesterday, has evidenced a close relationship with the Atlantic Council think tank, even writing Ukraine policy pieces with the organization’s director and analysis articles published by the Council. The Atlantic Council is funded by and works in partnership with Burisma.

As any NRA member will tell you, a pistol (smoking or otherwise) used without proper training and maintenance, constitutes a greater danger to its owner than to any potential target. Consequently, when William Taylor agreed to collude with House Democrats in their ongoing attempts to perpetrate another hoax, he should have taken care that his weapon wouldn’t misfire. As Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) succinctly explained on Fox News, “I was down there most of the day in this meeting with Ambassador Taylor. Once again something leaks out to the Washington Post and narratives are built. The truth is, in two minutes, John Ratcliffe destroyed this witness. There is no quid pro quo.” Rep. Ratcliffe (R-Texas) put it as follows:

At the end of the day, this was about quid pro quo and whether or not the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld and on that most important issue. Neither this witness or any other witness has provided any evidence that there was a quid pro quo, or any evidence that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld on July 25…. You can’t have a quid pro quo with no quo.

This kind of reasoning is why Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was chosen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lead the “impeachment inquiry.” As the chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, he has an inexhaustible list of pretexts to hold secret hearings and thus prevent the public from witnessing the disgraceful charade. On Tuesday, William Taylor clearly arrived with an unloaded gun and perhaps revealed that he has a conflict of interest involving a corrupt Ukrainian energy company that is obviously in the habit of bribing American officials. Meanwhile, everyone is searching for that mysterious “whistleblower” in a bizarre Beltway version of Where’s Waldo? Such antics would be funny were they not so dangerous.

David Catron
David Catron
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David Catron is a recovering health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.
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