The top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine reportedly sent a message to other diplomats in September saying that “it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” a revelation that comes amid House Democrats’ impeachment efforts against President Trump over his interactions with the Eastern European nation.
The message by Kiev Chargé d’Affaires William Taylor was part of an exchange provided to Congress by former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, according to Fox News, which obtained the encrypted texts.
Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland reportedly responded to Taylor’s concern saying that the accusation is “incorrect” and that Trump has been “crystal clear no quid pro quo of any kind” was involved in his request to have Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I suggest we stop the back and forth by text,” Sondland later added, according to ABC News, which noted that it is unclear if the conversation continued.
The messages were reportedly sent days before the White House released $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine on Sept. 11.
Fox and ABC’s reports follow scrutiny over Trump’s July 25 call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he asked Zelensky to look into Biden, the Democratic 2020 front-runner, while the aid was being withheld.
Volker reportedly turned over the texts as part of his Thursday deposition before several House committees.
He resigned his post after the release of a whistleblower complaint in which he was mentioned. The complaint alleged that he and Sondland went to Kiev to meet with political figures including Zelensky the day after Trump’s call, and that readouts indicated they did so to “navigate” demands made by Trump.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and has said there was not a quid pro quo involved in his call to Zelensky.
Taylor leads the embassy in Kiev, which has not had an official ambassador since Marie Yovanovitch stepped down in May. Yovanovitch is set to meet with House lawmakers next week.