William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, on Wednesday pushed back on Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) assertion that Taylor was the Democrats’ “star witness” in the House’s impeachment hearings on the first day of the process going public.
“I don’t consider myself a star witness for anything,” Taylor responded.
“They do,” Jordan responded, indicating the Democratic majority on the committee.
“I’m responding to your questions. I’m not here to take one side or the other or advocate any particular outcome,” Taylor responded. “My understanding is only coming from people I talked to.”
Republicans on the committee and allies of President Trump have repeatedly asserted that Democrats consider Taylor and George Kent, a top State Department official who also testified Wednesday, to be their strongest witnesses but claim the two diplomats are not reliable sources of information because they weren’t on the July 25 phone call at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
Jordan, a fierce defender of the president who was temporarily brought onto the House Intelligence Committee for the public phase of the inquiry, continued to note Taylor’s lack of firsthand knowledge of several of the conversations at question in the hearing, telling Taylor, “I’ve seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this back and forth” and saying Taylor was describing “six people having four conversations in one sentence.”
Jordan went on to note that Taylor had met with three times with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the period that U.S. military aid was delayed, saying his previous closed-door deposition had indicated that during those meetings there was no linkage of security dollars to investigating Burisma or former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
When Taylor said his “clear understanding” was that the two were linked, Jordan responded “Your clear understanding was obviously wrong, because it didn’t happen … where did you get this clear understanding?”
Taylor responded that it was based on conversations with Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.