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Legal Experts Sum Up U.S. Diplomat’s Testimony on Ukraine as ‘Devastating’ for Trump


The top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine on Tuesday told lawmakers that President Donald Trump conditioned the release of congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine on the country publicly launching an investigation into the Biden family and the hacked DNC server.

In a 15-page written opening statement that may prove catastrophic for the Trump Administration, William “Bill” Taylor contradicted the White House’s often repeated “no quid pro quo” defense, stating that Trump’s release of the military aid was contingent on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky personally saying that he was launching the investigation. Legal experts summed up the implications of Taylor’s testimony for President Trump in one word: “Devastating.”

“I just read Ambassador Taylor’s lengthy opening statement. Devastating,” former acting U.S. Solicitor General and Supreme Court litigator Neal Katyal commented.

Katyal pointed to the portion of the statement wherein Taylor recalled U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland saying, via instructions from President Trump, that “everything” was dependent on Zelensky’s public acknowledgement of the investigation.

“I cannot overstate how damaging this [Ambassador] Taylor testimony is to Trump,” Katyal tweeted.

Leah Litman, a professor of constitutional law and federal courts at the University of Michigan Law School, similarly characterized Taylor’s opening statement as “absolutely devastating.”

“It is beyond embarrassing that people in the administration have not resigned in light of this President’s corruption and serious breaches of office,” Litman said.

Chaired New York University Law professor and former Special Counsel for the Department of Defense Ryan Goodman offered a response in kind, saying the testimony evinced a clear abuse of the office of the president.

“This in Taylor’s written prepared remarks is UTTERLY DEVASTATING,” Goodman tweeted. “Quid pro quo. Highly orchestrated and planned. A gross abuse of power by the President of the United States, no other way to read this.”

The trend continued with Susan Hennessey and Scott Anderson, a pair of Brookings Institution legal fellows. They echoed their legal peers.

“Taylor’s statement is a completely devastating document,” Hennessey wrote. “I know they will find a way but it’s just impossible to imagine how Republicans in Congress will be able to defend this. It is well beyond what most assumed was the worst case scenario.”

Anderson, who also teaches at the Georgetown University Law Center, reiterated the sentiment.

“The key takeaway from this prepared testimony by Amb. William Taylor? That it is absolutely devastating,” he tweeted. “For Sondland and Volker, for Mulvaney and Pompeo, for ‘no quid pro quo’—and for any pretension the President didn’t know exactly what he was doing.”

[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.