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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Opinion | Donald Trump’s ‘Lynching’ - The New York Times

Some of the 28 men charged in the lynching of Willie Earle celebrating their acquittal in court in Greenville, S.C., on May 21, 1947.

"Donald Trump’s ‘Lynching’

By Jamelle BouieOct. 25, 2019, 6:00 a.m. ET

"Donald Trump is reckless with words and careless with actions. There’s no evidence that he thinks deeply about anything. Which is why I was not shocked when he condemned the House impeachment inquiry as a “lynching” earlier this week.

“So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the president, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!”

More than 4,000 African-American men, women and children were lynched — burned, beaten, drowned, shot or hanged to death — between 1877 and 1950. Trump almost certainly doesn’t know this. To a president who operates as an internet troll as much as a head of state, “lynching” is just another provocation — another way to seize the national conversation in the face of bad news and criticism. And to a man who can’t see beyond his own ego, “lynching” must feel like an apt analogy for the scrutiny of his political opponents. He can’t imagine anything worse.

Trump’s behavior didn’t shock me. What did shock me was a comment from Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. When asked about the president’s “lynching” remark, Graham said the comparison was apt: “Yes, this is a lynching and in every sense this is un-American. I’ve never seen a situation in my lifetime as a lawyer where someone is accused of a major misconduct and cannot confront the accuser or call witnesses on their behalf.”

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Trump is ignorant; Graham is not. In 2005, during Graham’s first Senate term, a unanimous Senate passed a resolution apologizing to lynching victims and their descendants for the chamber’s failure to enact anti-lynching legislation. It expressed “the deepest sympathies and most solemn regrets of the Senate to the descendants of the victims of lynching, the ancestors of whom were deprived of life, human dignity, and the constitutional protections accorded all citizens of the United States.” It also called on the Senate to “remember the history of lynching, to ensure that these tragedies will neither be forgotten nor repeated.”

[Join Jamelle Bouie as he shines a light on overlooked writing, culture and ideas from around the internet. For exclusive thoughts, photos and reading recommendations, sign up for his newsletter.]

The Senate likewise voted at the end of last year to make lynching a federal crime — another symbolic act of contrition. The vote, again, was unanimous. and Graham, again, was there. But even if he hadn’t been — and even if these votes had never happened — Graham should still know better. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy group focused on criminal and racial justice, 185 black Americans were reported lynched in South Carolina.

Graham is a native of Central, a small town in Pickens County at the northwest edge of the state. At least four of the 185 lynchings took place in the area. In 1947, eight years before Graham was born, a 24-year-old black man named Willie Earle was taken from jail — where he was held on charges of assault — and killed by a mob of white men, the last racially motivated lynching to take place in the state. A generation earlier, in 1912, a black teenager named Brooks Gordon was lynched for allegedly shooting at a white woman while she drew water from a spring. Twenty-two years before that, in 1890, Henry Johnson was killed after he was accused of rape. Another black man accused of assault — his name is lost to history — was lynched in 1891.

No, Graham did not live through this era. But his parents did, and the violence of that period marks the place he calls home. It marks the entire region and state. As a lawmaker who represents that state — who represents families and communities upended by racial terrorism past and present — Graham has a particular responsibility to that history. He owes his constituents a degree of sensitivity, an awareness of the weight of a word like “lynching.”

Graham has rejected those obligations. Instead, he’s content to affirm President Trump’s endless sense of his own victimhood. On Thursday, Graham introduced a resolution in the Senate to condemn the impeachment inquiry in the House. He will say anything to defend the president, even if it means minimizing one of the worst crimes this nation has perpetrated on its own citizens. Graham hasn’t just embraced the president, he’s embraced Trump’s total shamelessness — his absolute failure to hold himself accountable to any worthwhile standard of character.

The day before Trump and Graham made their comments, the Emmett Till Memorial Commission in Mississippi erected its fourth sign marking the spot on the Tallahatchie River where, in the summer of 1955, Till’s body was found after he was kidnapped, tortured and lynched. The three previous signs had been either stolen or vandalized and two were riddled with bullets in displays of anger and contempt. The new sign is made of steel.

The reason to condemn Trump and Graham for their “lynching” remarks is not to score a partisan point or because it will make a difference in their language or behavior. It’s because we haven’t actually resolved the trauma of the past. Historical spaces are still contested. The scars are still present."

Opinion | Donald Trump’s ‘Lynching’ - The New York Times

Republicans Can’t Defend Trump’s Corrupt Abuses of Power: A Closer Look

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Republicans Storm Impeachment Hearing After Bombshell Testimony: A Close...

Opinion | Why Did Republicans Storm the Capitol? They’re Running Out of Options - The New York Times

House Republicans talking to reporters after leaving the House SCIF.

"Why Did Republicans Storm the Capitol? They’re Running Out of Options

By The Editorial Board     Oct. 23, 2019

As more testimony is disclosed, it becomes clearer that President Trump’s only defense against impeachment is to distract from the facts.

Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, a gaggle of conservative House members on Capitol Hill staged a “protest,” barging into the secure room — called a SCIF — where members of three House committees were preparing to hear testimony from Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense.

Shepherding the demonstrators was Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, one of President Trump’s fiercest apologists, whose account live-tweeted the stunt: “BREAKING: I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions. Still inside — more details to come.”

This was not a fringe move. Representative Steve Scalise, the minority whip, was among the sea of dark-blue suits that surged into the hearing room.

Chaos ensued. There were shouting matches. Some of the invading members brought along their cellphones, though they are prohibited inside the secure room. Ms. Cooper’s testimony was delayed, and Democrats called in the sergeant-at-arms for help restoring order.

Some time after 2 p.m., Mr. Scalise and several of his fellow protesters re-emerged to complain to the assembled media about the “Soviet-style tactics” of the inquiry.

The entire spectacle was a circus — which was the point. This was a publicity stunt aimed at delegitimizing the impeachment investigation that Mr. Trump and his defenders have portrayed as a partisan inquisition. If a few rules and national security precautions got violated along the way, so be it. Mr. Gaetz & Co. were happy to oblige a president who has demanded to be protected at all costs.

In fact, Mr. Trump is said to have given them a thumbs-up the day before. On Tuesday, he “met with about 30 House Republicans at the White House to talk about the situation in Syria and the impeachment inquiry,” at which time the members “shared their plans to storm into the secure room,” Bloomberg News reported. Mr. Trump told them he thought it was a good idea.

Why wouldn’t he? As more and more testimony is disclosed, it becomes clearer that the president’s only defense against impeachment is to distract from the facts and complain about how unfairly he’s being treated.

So many of the defenses he floated early on have crumbled under the weight of subsequent revelations.

He started out insisting that his July 25 phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, a central element of the impeachment inquiry, was “perfect” — only to have the notes on the conversation released by the White House reveal that he had told Mr. Zelensky to open a (baseless) investigation of a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, whose son had done business in Ukraine.

Mr. Trump has tried to spin what he did as a good thing. “As the President of the United States, I have an absolute right, perhaps even a duty, to investigate, or have investigated, CORRUPTION, and that would include asking, or suggesting, other Countries to help us out!” he tweeted on Oct. 3.

Except that, as members of his own administration continue to clarify, this wasn’t a broad effort to root out corruption. It was a targeted campaign to pressure a foreign government to interfere with an American election on Mr. Trump’s behalf — apparently by holding hostage nearly $400 million in military aid.

He and many of his defenders have clung to the idea that there was no “quid pro quo,” a position rebutted on Tuesday by the testimony of William Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine.

Faced with this jaw-dropping account from the president’s own envoy, the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, dismissed it as part of “a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution.”

On Wednesday the president went further. He called Mr. Taylor “Never Trumper Diplomat Bill Taylor” in one tweet and declared in another: “The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats. Watch out for them, they are human scum!”

But as the evidence piles up, it gets harder to paint this as some groundless conspiracy. So Mr. Trump has resorted to the schoolyard taunt: You can’t get me!

In a Tuesday evening appearance on Fox News, Matt Whitaker, a former acting attorney general, asserted there were no grounds for impeachment because “abuse of power” — the essence of an impeachable offense — “is not a crime.”

That added to the uneasy sense that the president’s main impeachment defense may be that he is beyond the reach of the law.

On Monday, after a bipartisan outcry had prompted Mr. Trump to cancel plans to host the Group of 7 summit at his Miami golf resort next year, he griped to reporters about “this phony emoluments clause” — a reference to a part of the Constitution designed to limit corruption.

In federal court on Wednesday, his lawyer, while arguing that New York City prosecutors should not be allowed to obtain the president’s tax records, said that Mr. Trump cannot be prosecuted, or even investigated, for any offense — including shooting someone “in the middle of Fifth Avenue” — while in office.

Despite claims by the president and his die-hards, Democrats are not conducting “secret,” “Soviet-style” proceedings. At this stage, witness interviews are being conducted in private, with public hearings to be held later. This may not please Republicans, but it is not a sinister miscarriage of justice.

There are, in fact, plenty of good reasons Democrats are operating behind closed doors for now. The House’s impeachment inquiry is not a trial. It is more akin to a grand jury proceeding, where information is gathered and considered for the purposes of handing up an indictment. Any trial would be held in the Senate, with Mr. Trump represented by lawyers able to make all the substantive and process challenges he liked.

On Wednesday, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio complained that Republicans were demonstrating out of frustration “at the idea that they can’t be a part of this.” Nonsense. Republicans are in every hearing room that Democrats are in and able to ask their own questions. During Mr. Taylor’s testimony Tuesday, Mr. Jordan had praised the Republican lawyers for their questioning of the witness.

Accusing Democrats of mishandling the process certainly fits with Mr. Trump’s enduring sense of victimhood. The strategy also works to inflame the party’s base against the opposing team, while allowing Republican lawmakers to avoid defending Mr. Trump’s behavior."

But, mostly, it’s about all they’ve got."

Opinion | Why Did Republicans Storm the Capitol? They’re Running Out of Options - The New York Times

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Trump's 'worst day' yet: Reagan aide says new evidence make Trump 'impeachable'

Trump's 'worst day' yet: Reagan aide says new evidence make Trump 'impeachable'

See impeachment smoking gun go off: aide says Trump led bribery plot

Opening Statement of Ambassador William B. Taylor – October 22, 2019

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to appear today to provide my perspective on the events that are the subject of the Committees’ inquiry. My sole purpose is to provide the Committees with my views about the strategic importance of Ukraine to the United States as well as additional information about the incidents in question.

I have dedicated my life to serving U.S. interests at home and abroad in both military and civilian roles. My background and experience are nonpartisan and I have been honored to serve under every administration, Republican and Democratic, since 1985.

For 50 years, I have served the country, starting as a cadet at West Point, then as an infantry officer for six years, including with the 101 Airborne Division in Vietnam; then at the Department of Energy; then as a member of a Senate staff; then at NATO; then with the State Department here and abroad — in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jerusalem, and Ukraine; and more recently, as Executive Vice President of the nonpartisan United States Institute of Peace.

While I have served in many places and in different capacities, I have a particular interest in and respect for the importance of our country’s relationship with Ukraine. Our national security demands that this relationship remain strong, However, in August and September of this year, I became increasingly concerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making and by the withholding of vital security assistance for domestic political reasons. I hope my remarks today will help the Committees understand why I believed that to be the case.

At the outset, I would like to convey several key points. First, Ukraine is a strategic partner of the United States, important for the security of our country as well as Europe. Second, Ukraine is, right at this moment — while we sit in this room — and for the last five years, under armed attack from Russia. Third, the security assistance we provide is crucial to Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression, and, more importantly, sends a signal to Ukrainians — and Russians — that we are Ukraine’s reliable strategic partner. And finally, as the Committees are now aware, I said on September 9 in a message to Ambassador Gordon Sondland that withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be “crazy.” I believed that then, and I still believe that.


Let me now provide the Committees a chronology of the events that led to my concern.

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. It was — and is — a critical time in U.S.-Ukraine relations: Volodymyr Zelenskyy had just been elected president and Ukraine remained at war with Russia. As the summer approached, a new Ukrainian government would be seated, parliamentary elections were imminent, and the Ukrainian political trajectory would be set for the next several years.

I had served as Ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, having been nominated by George W. Bush, and, in the intervening 10 years, 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. Across the responsibilities I have had in public service, Ukraine is special for me, and Secretary Pompeo’s offer to return as Chief of Mission was compelling. I am convinced of the profound importance of Ukraine to the security of the United States and Europe for two related reasons:

First, if Ukraine succeeds in breaking free of Russian influence, it is possible for Europe to be whole, free, democratic, and at peace. In contrast, if Russia dominates Ukraine, Russia will again become an empire, oppressing its people, and threatening its neighbors and the rest of the world.

Second, with the annexation of the Crimea in 2014 and the continued aggression in Donbas, Russia violated countless treaties, ignored all commitments, and dismissed all the principles that have kept the peace and contributed to prosperity in Europe since World War II. To restore Ukraine’s independence, Russia must leave Ukraine. This has been and should continue to be a bipartisan U.S. foreign policy goal.

When I was serving outside of government during the Obama adıninistration and after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, I joined two other former ambassadors to Ukraine in urging Obama administration officials at the State Department, Defense Department, and other agencies to provide lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine in order to deter further Russian aggression. I also supported much stronger sanctions against Russia.


All to say, I cared about Ukraine’s future and the important U.S. interests there. So, when Secretary Pompeo asked me to go back to Kyiv, I wanted to say “yes.”

But it was not an easy decision. The former Ambassador, Masha Yovanovitch, had been treated poorly, caught in a web of political machinations both in Kyiv and in Washington. I feared that those problems were still present. When I talked to her about accepting the offer, however, she urged me to go, both for policy reasons and for the morale of the embassy.

Before answering the Secretary, I consulted both my wife and a respected former senior Republican official who has been a mentor to me. I will tell you that my wife, in no uncertain terms, strongly opposed the idea. The mentor counseled: if your country asks you to do something, you do it — if you can be effective.

I could be effective only if the U.S. policy of strong support for Ukraine — strong diplomatic support along with robust security, economic, and technical assistance — were to continue and if I had the backing of the Secretary of State to implement that policy. I worried about what I had heard concerning the role of Rudolph Giuliani, who had made several high-profile statements about Ukraine and U.S. policy toward the country. So 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. He assured me that the policy of strong support for Ukraine would continue and that he would support me in defending that policy.

With that understanding, I agreed to go back to Kyiv. Because I was appointed by the Secretary but not reconfirmed by the Senate, my official position was Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.

* * * * *

I returned to Kyiv on June 17, carrying the original copy of a letter President Trump signed the day after I met with the Secretary. In that letter, President Trump congratulated President Zelenskyy on his election victory and invited him to a meeting in the Oval Office. I also brought with me a framed copy of the Secretary’s declaration that the United States would never recognize the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea.

But once I arrived in Kyiv, I discovered a weird combination of encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances.


First, the encouraging: President Zelenskyy was taking over Ukraine in a hurry. He had appointed reformist ministers and supported long-stalled anti-corruption legislation. He took quick executive action, including opening Ukraine’s High Anti-Corruption Court, which was established under the previous presidential administration but never allowed to operate. He called snap parliamentary elections — his party was so new it had no representation in the Rada — and later won an overwhelming mandate, controlling 60 percent of the seats. With his new parliamentary majority, President Zelenskyy changed the Ukrainian constitution to remove absolute immunity from Rada deputies, which had been the source of raw corruption for two decades. There was much excitement in Kyiv that this time things could be different — a new Ukraine might finally be breaking from its corrupt, post-Soviet past.

And yet, I found a confusing and unusual arrangement for making U.S. policy towards Ukraine. There appeared to be two channels of U.S. policy-making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular. As the Chief of Mission, I had authority over the regular, formal diplomatic processes, including the bulk of the U.S. effort to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion and to help it defeat corruption. This regular channel of U.S. policy-making has consistently had strong, bipartisan support both in Congress and in all administrations since Ukraine’s independence from Russia in 1991.

At the same time, however, there was an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making with respect to Ukraine, one which included then-Special Envoy Kurt Volker, Ambassador Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and as I subsequently learned, Mr. Giuliani. I was clearly in the regular channel, but I was also in the irregular one to the extent that Ambassadors Volker and Sondland included me in certain conversations. Although this irregular channel was well-connected in Washington, it operated mostly outside of official State Department channels. This irregular channel began when Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, Secretary Perry, and Senator Ron Johnson briefed President Trump on May 23 upon their return from President Zelenskyy’s inauguration. The delegation returned to Washington enthusiastic about the new Ukrainian president and urged President Trump to meet with him early on to cement the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. But from what I understood, President Trump did not share their enthusiasın for a meeting with Mr. Zelenskyy.

When I first arrived in Kyiv, in June and July, the actions of both the regular and the irregular channels of foreign policy served the same goal — a strong U.S.-


Ukraine partnership — but it became clear to me by August that the channels had diverged in their objectives. As this occurred, I became increasingly concerned.

In late June, one the goals of both channels was to facilitate a visit by President Zelenskyy to the White House for a meeting with President Trump, which President Trump had promised in his congratulatory letter of May 29. The Ukrainians were clearly eager for the meeting to happen. During a conference call with Ambassador Volker, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Phil Reeker, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland, and Counselor of the U.S. Department of State Ulrich Brechbuhl on June 18, it was clear that a meeting between the two presidents was an agreed-upon goal.

But during my subsequent communications with Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, they relayed to me that the President “wanted to hear from Zelenskyy” before scheduling the meeting in the Oval Office. It was not clear to me what this meant.

On June 27, Ambassador Sondland told me during a phone conversation that President Zelenskyy needed to make clear to President Trump that he, President Zelenskyy, was not standing in the way of “investigations.”

I sensed something odd when Ambassador Sondland told me on June 28 that he did not wish to include most of the regular interagency participants in a call planned with President Zelenskyy later that day. Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Volker, Secretary Perry, and I were on this call, dialing in from different locations. However, Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelenskyy to the call. Also, before President Zelenskyy joined the call, Ambassador Volker separately told the U.S. participants that he, Ambassador Volker, planned to be explicit with President Zelenskyy in a one-on-one meeting in Toronto on July 2 about what President Zelenskyy should do to get the White House meeting. Again, it was not clear to me on that call what this meant, but Ambassador Volker noted that he would relay that President Trump wanted to see rule of law, transparency, but also, specifically, cooperation on investigations to “get to the bottom of things.” Once President Zelenskyy joined the call, the conversation was focused on energy policy and the Stanytsia-Luhanska bridge. President Zelenskyy also said he looked forward to the White House visit President Trump had offered in his May 29 letter.


I reported on this call to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, who had responsibility for Ukraine, and I wrote a memo for the record dated June 30 that summarized our conversation with President Zelenskyy.

By mid-July it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelenskyy wanted was conditioned on the investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. It was also clear that this condition was driven by the irregular policy channel I had come to understand was guided by Mr. Giuliani.

On July 10, Ukrainian officials Alexander Danyliuk, the Ukrainian national security advisor, and Andriy Yermak, an assistant to President Zelenskyy, and Secretary Perry, then-National Security Advisor John Bolton, Ambassador Volker, and Ambassador Sondland met at the White House. I did not participate in the meeting and did not receive a readout of it until speaking with the National Security Council’s (NSC’s) then-Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs, Fiona Hill, and the NSC’s Director of European Affairs, Alex Vindman, on July 19.

On July 10 in Kyiv, I met with President Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andrei Bohdan, and then-foreign policy advisor to the president and now Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, who told me that they had heard from Mr. Giuliani that the phone call between the two presidents was unlikely to happen and that they were alarmed and disappointed. I relayed their concerns to Counselor Brechbuhl.

In a regular NSC secure video-conference call on July 18, I heard a staff person from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) say that there was a hold on security assistance to Ukraine but could not say why. Toward the end of an otherwise normal meeting, a voice on the call — the person was off-screen — said that she was from OMB and that her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending of security assistance for Ukraine until further notice. I and others sat in astonishment — the Ukrainians were fighting the Russians and counted on not only the training and weapons, but also the assurance of U.S. support. All that the OMB staff person said was that the directive had come from the President to the Chief of Staff to OMB. In an instant, I realized that one of the key pillars of our strong support for Ukraine was threatened. The irregular policy channel was running contrary to the goals of longstanding U.S. policy.

There followed a series of NSC-led interagency meetings, starting at the staff level and quickly reaching the level of Cabinet secretaries. At every meeting, the


unanimous conclusion was that the security assistance should be resumed, the hold lifted. At one point, the Defense Department was asked to perform an analysis of the effectiveness of the assistance. Within a day, the Defense Department came back with the determination that the assistance was effective and should be resumed. My understanding was that the Secretaries of Defense and State, the CIA Director, and the National Security Advisor sought a joint meeting with the President to convince him to release the hold, but such a meeting was hard to schedule and the hold lasted well into September.

The next day on the phone, Dr. Hill and Mr. Vindman tried to reassure me that they were not aware of any official change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine, OMB’s announcement notwithstanding. They did confirm that the hold on security assistance for Ukraine came from Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and that the Chief of Staff maintained a skeptical view of Ukraine.

In the same July 19 phone call, they gave me an account of the July 10 meeting with the Ukrainian officials at the White House. Specifically, they told me that Ambassador Sondland had connected “investigations” with an Oval Office meeting for President Zelenskyy, which so irritated Ambassador Bolton that he abruptly ended the meeting, telling Dr. Hill and Mr. Vindman that they should have nothing to do with domestic politics. He also directed Dr. Hill to “brief the lawyers.” Dr. Hill said that Ambassador Bolton referred to this as a “drug deal” after the July 10 meeting. Ambassador Bolton opposed a call between President Zelenskyy and President Trump out of concern that it “would be a disaster.”

Needless to say, the Ukrainians in the meetings were confused. Ambassador Bolton, in the regular Ukraine policy decision-making channel, wanted to talk about security, energy, and reform; Ambassador Sondland, a participant in the irregular channel, wanted to talk about the connection between a White House meeting and Ukrainian investigations.

Also during our July 19 call, Dr. Hill informed me that Ambassador Volker had met with Mr. Giuliani to discuss Ukraine. This caught me by surprise. The next day I asked Ambassador Volker about that meeting, but received no response. I began to sense that the two decision making channels — the regular and irregular — were separate and at odds.

Later on July 19 and in the early morning of July 20 (Kyiv time), I received text messages on a three-way WhatsApp text conversation with Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, a record of which I understand has already been provided to the


Committees by Ambassador Volker. Ambassador Sondland said that a call between President Trump and President Zelenskyy would take place soon. Ambassador Volker said that what was “[m]ost impt is for Zelensky to say that he will help investigation — and address any specific personnel issues — if there are any.”

Later on July 20, I had a phone conversation with Ambassador Sondland while he was on a train from Paris to London, Ambassador Sondland told me that he had recommended to President Zelenskyy that he use the phrase, “I will leave no stone unturned” with regard to “investigations” when President Zelenskyy spoke with President Trump.

Also on July 20, I had a phone conversation with Mr. Danyliuk, during which he conveyed to me that President Zelenskyy did not want to be used as a pawn in a U.S. re-election campaign. The next day I texted both Ambassadors Volker and Sondland about President Zelenskyy’s concern.

On July 25, President Trump and President Zelenskyy had the long-awaited phone conversation. Strangely, even though I was Chief of Mission and was scheduled to meet with President Zelenskyy along with Ambassador Volker the following day, I received no readout of the call from the White House. The Ukrainian government issued a short, cryptic summary.

During a previously planned July 26 meeting, President Zelenskyy told Ambassador Volker and me that he was happy with the call but did not elaborate. President Zelenskyy then asked about the face-to-face meeting in the Oval Office as promised in the May 29 letter from President Trump.

After our meeting with President Zelenskyy, Ambassador Volker and I traveled to the front line in northern Donbas to receive a briefing from the commander of the forces on the line of contact. Arriving for the briefing in the military headquarters, the commander thanked us for security assistance, but I was aware that this assistance was on hold, which made me uncomfortable.

Ambassador Volker and I could see the armed and hostile Russian-led forces on the other side of the damaged bridge across the line of contact. Over 13,000 Ukrainians had been killed in the war, one or two a week. More Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without the U.S. assistance.


Although I spent the morning of July 26 with President Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials, the first summary of the Trump-Zelenskyy call that I heard from anybody inside the U.S. government was during a phone call I had with Tim Morrison, Dr. Hill’s recent replacement at the NSC, on July 28. Mr. Morrison told me that the call “could have been better” and that President Trump had suggested that President Zelenskyy or his staff meet with Mr. Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr. I did not see any official readout of the call until it was publicly released on September 25.

On August 16, I exchanged text messages with Ambassador Volker in which I learned that Mr. Yeriak had asked that the United States submit an official request for an investigation into Burisma’s alleged violations of Ukrainian law, if that is what the United States desired. A formal U.S. request to the Ukrainians to conduct an investigation based on violations of their own law struck me as improper, and I recommended to Ambassador Volker that we “stay clear.” To find out the legal aspects of the question, however, I gave him the name of a Deputy Assistant Attorney General whom I thought would be the proper point of contact for seeking a U.S. referral for a foreign investigation.

By mid-August, because the security assistance had been held for over a month for no reason that I could discern, I was beginning to fear that the longstanding U.S. policy of strong support for Ukraine was shifting. I called Counselor Brechbuhl to discuss this on August 21. He said that he was not aware of a change of U.S. policy but would check on the status of the security assistance. My concerns deepened the next day, on August 22, during a phone conversation with Mr. Morrison. I asked him if there had been a change in policy of strong support for Ukraine, to which he responded, “it remains to be seen.” He also told me during this call that the “President doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all.” That was extremely troubling to me. As I had told Secretary Pompeo in May, if the policy of strong support for Ukraine were to change, I would have to resign. Based on my call with Mr. Morrison, I was preparing to do so.

Just days later, on August 27, Ambassador Bolton arrived in Kyiv and met with President Zelenskyy. During their meeting, security assistance was not discussed — amazingly, news of the hold did not leak out until August 29. I, on the other hand, was all too aware of and still troubled by the hold. Near the end of Ambassador Bolton’s visit, I asked to meet him privately, during which I expressed to him my serious concern about the withholding of military assistance to Ukraine while the Ukrainians were defending their country from Russian aggression. Ambassador Bolton recommended that I send a first-person cable to


Secretary Pompeo directly, relaying my concerns. I wrote and transmitted such a cable on August 29, describing the “folly” I saw in withholding military aid to Ukraine at a time when hostilities were still active in the east and when Russia was watching closely to gauge the level of American support for the Ukrainian government. I told the Secretary that I could not and would not defend such a policy. Although I received no specific response, I heard that soon thereafter, the Secretary carried the cable with him to a meeting at the White House focused on security assistance for Ukraine.

The same day that I sent my cable to the Secretary, August 29, Mr. Yermak contacted me and was very concerned, asking about the withheld security assistance. The hold that the White House had placed on the assistance had just been made public that day in a Politico story. At that point, I was embarrassed that I could give him no explanation for why it was withheld.

It had still not occurred to me that the hold on security assistance could be related to the “investigations.” That, however, would soon change.

On September 1, just three days after my cable to Secretary Pompeo, President Zelenskyy met Vice President Pence at a bilateral meeting in Warsaw. President Trump had planned to travel to Warsaw but at the last minute had cancelled because of Hurricane Dorian. Just hours before the Pence-Zelenskyy meeting, I contacted Mr. Danyliuk to let him know that the delay of U.S. security assistance was an “all or nothing” proposition, in the sense that if the White House did not lift the hold prior to the end of the fiscal year (September 30), the funds would expire and Ukraine would receive nothing. I was hopeful that at the bilateral meeting or shortly thereafter, the White House would lift the hold, but this was not to be. Indeed, I received a readout of the Pence-Zelenskyy meeting over the phone from Mr. Morrison, during which he told me President Zelenskyy had opened the meeting by asking the Vice President about security cooperation. The Vice President did not respond substantively, but said that he would talk to President Trump that night. The Vice President did say that President Trump wanted the Europeans to do more to support Ukraine and that he wanted the Ukrainians to do more to fight corruption.

During this same phone call I had with Mr. Morrison, he went on to describe a conversation Ambassador Sondland had with Mr. Yermak at Warsaw. Ambassador Sondland told Mr. Yermak that the security assistance money would not come until President Zelenskyy committed to pursue the Burisma investigation. I was alarmed by what Mr. Morrison told me about the Sondland-Yermak


conversation. This was the first time I had heard that the security assistance — not just the White House meeting — was conditioned on the investigations.

Very concerned, on that same day I sent Ambassador Sondland a text message asking if “we [are] now saying that security assistance and [a] WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Ambassador Sondland responded asking me to call him, which I did. During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelenskyy to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with President Zelenskyy was dependent on a public announcement of investigations — in fact, Ambassador Sondland said, “everything” was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelenskyy “in a public box” by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.

In the same September 1 call, I told Ambassador Sondland that President Trump should have more respect for another head of state and that what he described was not in the interest of either President Trump or President Zelenskyy. At that point I asked Ambassador Sondland to push back on President Trump’s demand. Ambassador Sondland pledged to try. We also discussed the possibility that the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, rather than President Zelenskyy, would make a statement about investigations, potentially in coordination with Attorney General Barr’s probe into the investigation of interference in the 2016 elections.

The next day, September 2, Mr. Morrison called to inform me that Mr. Danyliuk had asked him to come to his hotel room in Warsaw, where Mr. Danyliuk expressed concern about the possible loss of U.S. support for Ukraine. In particular, Mr. Morrison relayed to me that the inability of any U.S. officials to respond to the Ukrainians’ explicit questions about security assistance was troubling them. I was experiencing the same tension in my dealings with the Ukrainians, including during a meeting I had had with Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagordnyuk that day.

During my call with Mr. Morrison on September 2, I also briefed Mr. Morrison on what Ambassador Sondland had told me during our call the day prior.


On September 5, I hosted Senators Johnson and Murphy for a visit to Kyiv. During their visit, we met with President Zelenskyy. His first question to the senators was about the withheld security assistance. My recollection of the meeting is that both senators stressed that bipartisan support for Ukraine in Washington was Ukraine’s most important strategic asset and that President Zelenskyy should not jeopardize that bipartisan support by getting drawn into U.S. domestic politics.

I had been making (and continue to make) this point to all of my Ukrainian official contacts. But the push to make President Zelenskyy publicly commit to investigations of Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Mr. Giuliani.

Two days later, on September 7, I had a conversation with Mr. Morrison in which he described a phone conversation earlier that day between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump. Mr. Morrison said that he had a “sinking feeling” after learning about this conversation from Ambassador Sondland. According to Mr. Morrison, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland that he was not asking for a “quid pro quo.” But President Trump did insist that President Zelenskyy go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelenskyy should want to do this himself. Mr. Morrison said that he told Ambassador Bolton and the NSC lawyers of this phone call between President Trump and Ambassador Sondland.

The following day, on September 8, Ambassador Sondland and I spoke on the phone. He said he had talked to President Trump as I had suggested a week earlier, but that President Trump was adamant that President Zelenskyy, himself, had to “clear things up and do it in public.” President Trump said it was not a “quid pro quo.” Ambassador Sondland said that he had talked to President Zelenskyy and Mr. Yermak and told them that, although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelenskyy did not “clear things up” in public, we would be at a “stalemate.” I understood a “stalemate” to mean that Ukraine would not receive the much-needed military assistance. Ambassador Sondland said that this conversation concluded with President Zelenskyy agreeing to make a public statement in an interview with CNN.

After the call with Ambassador Sondland on September 8, I expressed my strong reservations in a text message to Ambassador Sondland, stating that my


See Original Document

“nightmare is they [the Ukrainians] give the interview and don’t get the security assistance. The Russians love it. (And I quit.).” I was serious.

The next day, I said to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker that “[t]he message to the Ukrainians (and Russians) we send with the decision on security assistance is key. With the hold, we have already shaken their faith in us.” I also said, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Ambassador Sondland responded about five hours later that I was “incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”

Before these text messages, during our call on September 8, Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check. Ambassador Volker used the same terms several days later while we were together at the Yalta European Strategy Conference. I argued to both that the explanation made no sense: the Ukrainians did not “owe” President Trump anything, and holding up security assistance for domestic political gain was “crazy,” as I had said in my text message to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker on September 9.

Finally, I learned on September 11 that the hold had been lifted and that the security assistance would be provided.

After I learned that the security assistance was released on September 11, I personally conveyed the news to President Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Prystaiko. And I again reminded Mr. Yermak of the high strategic value of bipartisan support for Ukraine and the importance of not getting involved in other countries’ elections. My fear at the time was that since Ambassador Sondland had told me President Zelenskyy already agreed to do a CNN interview, President Zelenskyy would make a statement regarding “investigations” that would have played into domestic U.S. politics. I sought to confirm through Mr. Danyliuk that President Zelenskyy was not planning to give such an interview to the media. While Mr. Danyliuk initially confirmed that on September 12, I noticed during a meeting on the morning of September 13 at President Zelenskyy’s office that Mr. Yermak looked uncomfortable in response to the question. Again, I asked Mr. Danyliuk to confirm that there would be no CNN interview, which he did.


On September 25 at the UN General Assembly session in New York City, President Trump met President Zelenskyy face-to-face. He also released the transcript of the July 25 call. The United States gave the Ukrainians virtually no notice of the release, and they were livid. Although this was the first time I had seen the details of President Trump’s July 25 call with President Zelenskyy, in which he mentioned Vice President Biden, I had come to understand well before then that “investigations” was a term that Ambassadors Volker and Sondland used to mean matters related to the 2016 elections, and to investigations of Burisma and the Bidens.

* * * * *

I recognize that this is a rather lengthy recitation of the events of the past few months told from my vantage point in Kyiv. But I also recognize the importance of the matters your Committees are investigating, and I hope that this chronology will provide some framework for your questions.

I wish to conclude by returning to the points I made at the outset. Ukraine is important to the security of the United States. It has been attacked by Russia, which continues its aggression against Ukraine. If we believe in the principle of sovereignty of nations on which our security and the security of our friends and allies depends, we must support Ukraine in its fight against its bullying neighbor. Russian aggression cannot stand.

There are two Ukraine stories today. The first is the one we are discussing this morning and that you have been hearing for the past two weeks. It is a rancorous story about whistleblowers, Mr. Giuliani, side channels, quid pro quos, corruption, and interference in elections. In this story Ukraine is an object.

But there is another Ukraine story — a positive, bipartisan one. In this second story, Ukraine is the subject. This one is about young people in a young nation, struggling to break free of its past, hopeful that their new government will finally usher in a new Ukraine, proud of its independence from Russia, eager to join Western institutions and enjoy a more secure and prosperous life. This story describes a nation developing an inclusive, democratic nationalism, not unlike what we in America, in our best moments, feel about our diverse country — less concerned about what language we speak, what religion if any we practice, where our parents and grandparents came from; more concerned about building a new country.


Because of the strategic importance of Ukraine in our effort to create a whole, free Europe, we, through Republican and Democratic administrations over three decades, have supported Ukraine. Congress has been generous over the years with assistance funding, both civilian and military, and political support. With overwhelming bipartisan majorities, Congress has supported Ukraine with harsh sanctions on Russia for invading and occupying Ukraine. We can be proud of that support and that we have stood up to a dictator’s aggression against a democratic neighbor.

It is this second story that I would like to leave you with today.

And I am glad to answer your questions."

See impeachment smoking gun go off: aide says Trump led bribery plot

Ukraine Envoy Testifies Trump Linked Military Aid to Investigations - The New York Times

William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, arriving Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

Today's testimony seals the deal.

"WASHINGTON — William B. Taylor Jr., the United States’ top diplomat in Ukraine, told impeachment investigators privately on Tuesday that President Trump held up vital security aid for the country and refused a White House meeting with Ukraine’s leader until he agreed to make a public pledge to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

In testimony built around careful notes he took during his tenure and delivered in defiance of State Department orders, Mr. Taylor sketched out in remarkable detail a quid-pro-quo pressure campaign on Ukraine that Mr. Trump and his allies have long denied, one in which the president conditioned the entire United States relationship with Ukraine on a promise that the country would investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family, along with other Democrats.

His account implicated Mr. Trump personally in the effort, citing multiple sources inside the government, including a budget official who said during a secure National Security Council conference call in July that she had been instructed not to approve a $391 million security assistance package for Ukraine, and that, Mr. Taylor said, “the directive had come from the president.”

Mr. Taylor, in his opening statement obtained by The New York Times, described Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, as being at the center of what he called an “irregular policy channel” that operated outside of — and at odds with — normal American foreign policymaking. He further characterized the situation as “a rancorous story about whistle-blowers, Mr. Giuliani, side channels, quid pro quos, corruption and interference in elections.”

William B. Taylor Jr., the United States’ top diplomat in Ukraine, delivered testimony to impeachment investigators on Tuesday that described an effort by President Trump to withhold aid for Ukraine until the country’s leader agreed to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

When he objected to Mr. Trump’s efforts to tie security aid and a White House meeting to the investigations, Mr. Taylor said Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union and a Trump campaign donor, told him there was no quid pro quo. But then Mr. Sondland described just that, telling Mr. Taylor to think of Mr. Trump as a businessman looking to make sure he would benefit before he closed a deal.

“When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check,” Mr. Taylor testified, quoting Mr. Sondland.

Mr. Taylor’s testimony directly contradicted repeated assertions by Mr. Trump and his Republican allies that there was never a direct linkage involving investigations into Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that employed Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, or other Democrats.

It also raised questions about the veracity of the testimony of other prominent impeachment witnesses, including Mr. Sondland and Kurt D. Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine, who have said behind closed doors they had not been aware of any improper pressure tactics.

That is not true, Mr. Taylor told the committee. He said the president had explicitly made it clear that Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, would not be invited to the White House or secure much-needed security aid unless the Ukrainian leader made a public announcement that his country would start the investigations that Mr. Trump so badly wanted.

Mr. Taylor testified that he was told of Mr. Trump’s demands for investigations during a telephone call with Mr. Sondland.

“Ambassador Sondland said that ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance,” Mr. Taylor told lawmakers on Monday. “He said that President Trump wanted president Zelensky ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.”

“During that phone call,” Mr. Taylor said, “Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.”

What’s New in the Impeachment Case

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told impeachment investigators that President Trump held up security aid and withheld a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, until Mr. Zelensky agreed to publicly announce that he would investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

Mr. Taylor told lawmakers that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, said “everything,” including the military aid, was dependent on such an announcement. “He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.”

Mr. Taylor, who referred to detailed notes he took throughout the summer, told investigators about a budget official who said during a secure National Security Council call in July that she had been instructed not to approve the $391 million security assistance package for Ukraine, and that “the directive had come from the president.”

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One lawmaker described the testimony as drawing a “direct line” between American foreign policy and his own political goals.

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida, who sat in on the deposition as a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said that Mr. Taylor relied in part on detailed “notes to the file” that he had made as he watched the pressure campaign unfold. His testimony shed new light on the circumstances around a previously revealed text message in which Mr. Taylor wrote to colleagues that he thought it was “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

He “drew a very direct line in the series of events he described between President Trump’s decision to withhold funds and refuse a meeting with Zelensky unless there was a public pronouncement by him of investigations of Burisma and the so-called 2016 election conspiracy theories,” Ms. Wasserman Schultz said.

In his statement, Mr. Taylor described a July 18 call in which he learned that the directive to withhold Ukraine’s aid had come to the White House budget office directly from Mr. Trump, through his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

“In an instant I realized one of the key pillars of our strong support for Ukraine was threatened,” Mr. Taylor said in his testimony.

In his statement, Mr. Taylor described with almost cinematic sweep his return to Ukraine in mid-June, after a long diplomatic career in the country, only to discover with dismay in the months that followed “a weird combination of encouraging, confusing and ultimately alarming circumstances.”

A West Point graduate with a nearly 50-year career as a diplomat, Mr. Taylor testified about his growing realization that Mr. Trump had put in place “two channels of U.S. policymaking and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular,” with the latter group made up of Mr. Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Mr. Volker and Mr. Giuliani.

Throughout the summer, Mr. Taylor said, it became clear that the irregular group was focused on only one thing: the investigations sought by the president. And at a July 18 meeting, Mr. Taylor said he learned that the president had held up “until further notice” all military aid needed to repel attacks from Russian-backed forces.

About ten days later, Mr. Taylor said he traveled to the front lines of Ukraine fighting in northern Donbass for a briefing from the country’s commanders, who thanked him for the security assistance being provided by the United States government — assistance that Mr. Taylor by then knew was no longer coming.

Mr. Taylor said he could see the “armed and hostile Russian-led forces on the other side of the damaged bridge across the line of contact. Over 13,000 Ukrainians had been killed in the war, one or two a week. More Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without the U.S. assistance.”

What’s New in the Impeachment Case

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told impeachment investigators that President Trump held up security aid and withheld a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, until Mr. Zelensky agreed to publicly announce that he would investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals.

Mr. Taylor told lawmakers that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, said “everything,” including the military aid, was dependent on such an announcement. “He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.”

Mr. Taylor, who referred to detailed notes he took throughout the summer, told investigators about a budget official who said during a secure National Security Council call in July that she had been instructed not to approve the $391 million security assistance package for Ukraine, and that “the directive had come from the president.”

In an almost hour-by-hour recitation, Mr. Taylor laid out his increasing panic through the summer and into September as he realized that the security aid Ukraine needed was being held up because of Mr. Trump’s political demands. In one text message to Mr. Sondland, he threatened to quit if Ukraine didn’t get the assistance.

“I was serious,” Mr. Taylor wrote in his statement.

The intelligence whistle-blower’s complaint that prompted the impeachment inquiry said that Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure Mr. Zelensky during a July phone call to open an investigation of Burisma was part of a concerted effort to use the power of his office to enlist foreign help in the 2020 election.

Mr. Taylor was the latest in a string of career diplomats and current and former administration officials who have defied a White House blockade of the impeachment inquiry and submitted to closed-door depositions with investigators digging into whether Mr. Trump abused his power to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political adversaries.

As Mr. Taylor made his way to Capitol Hill to testify early Tuesday, the president sought to discredit the inquiry with attention-grabbing rhetoric, comparing the impeachment investigation against him to a “lynching.”

His comment on Twitter drew bipartisan outrage in public as the ambassador made his case behind closed doors. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, separately quibbled with an assertion by Mr. Trump that the senator had described the July call with Mr. Zelensky as “perfect.”

“I don’t recall any conversation with the president on that phone call,” Mr. McConnell told reporters.

Ms. Wasserman Schultz said that in addition to referencing his notes, Mr. Taylor “had very specific recall of things,” including what she said were “meetings, phone calls, what was said.”

Several Democrats who participated in Mr. Taylor’s questioning described his testimony as stunning. Representative Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, shook his head after exiting the deposition, saying “what he said was incredibly damning to the president of the United States.”

Ms. Wasserman Schultz called it “one of the most disturbing days” she has had in Congress, and added.

“It’s like if you had a big, 1,000-piece puzzle on a table,” Ms. Wasserman Schultz said. “This fills in a lot of pieces of the puzzle.”

Republicans accused Democrats of exaggerating, but they declined to share details of the testimony.

“I don’t know that any of us, if we are being intellectually honest, are hearing revelations that we were not aware of,” said Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina. “The bottom line is no one has yet to make the case for why the aid was withheld or even if the Ukrainians knew about it.”

Mr. Taylor became a star witness in the Democratic impeachment probe after Mr. Volker revealed texts they exchanged. In some of the text chains, as Mr. Taylor expressed his concerns about an apparent quid pro quo, Mr. Sondland sought to take the conversation offline, telling Mr. Taylor to “call me.”

Mr. Taylor’s habit of keeping notes throughout his tenure has given the inquiry a boost, allowing him to recreate crucial conversations and moments even as the administration seeks to block Congress from reviewing documents related to its dealings with Ukraine.

A battle over access to Mr. Taylor’s underlying notes may soon ensue. Mr. Taylor has shared them with the State Department but the department has not produced copies of them for lawmakers conducting the impeachment inquiry, a person familiar with his testimony said. The Department has already defied a subpoena from the House for any records related to their work."

Ukraine Envoy Testifies Trump Linked Military Aid to Investigations - The New York Times

Lindsey Graham defends Trump's 'lynching' tweet

'It's where we come from': the River People in Mexico left without a river | Environment | The Guardian

"They are called the River People, but they no longer have a river.
Inocencia González is the traditional tribal elder of the Cucapá – the River People – in northern Mexico. She spends her days beading traditional chaquira jewellery to sell at the community museum, and reminiscing about happier times spent fishing for tilapia and mullet.
González grew up in the Colorado River delta when the mighty waterway and lakes provided abundant food, water, medicines and spiritual nourishment for her people to thrive.
It was on the river that González, now 82, taught her children, just like her parents and grandparents taught her, to fish with canoes and traps made from willow trees which flourished on the riverbanks.
Now, the river stops at the US-Mexico border and the lakes are dry and native vegetation is confined to reforestation projects. The only fish come from irrigation canals and the nearby River Hardy – a polluted 16-mile tributary of the Colorado sustained by agricultural runoff and a water treatment plant.
As the Guardian wrote yesterday, the Colorado is the most regulated waterway in the Americas, supplying water to cities, farmlands and national parks across seven US states. But it is dammed at the international border and the US releases an allotted amount, which is mostly diverted into irrigation canals for farmland. The Colorado itself is reduced to puddles, a taunting sight during the summer months when temperatures can reach 50C (122F).
“I miss the river, it’s where we come from, it’s who we are,” said González, while chain smoking outside her modest home in El Mayor, Baja California. “Now, everything has changed, the youngsters can’t swim in the river and we’ve no choice but to fish in polluted water.”
At home next door, grandson Jaziel Soto Torres, 25, has bandages wrapped around both legs, to cover itchy blisters that erupted after wading in the murky River Hardy to repair a footbridge.

The 1944 binational river treaty

The Cucapá are one of Baja California’s five native tribes, and are descended from the hunter gatherer Yuman people who migrated here around 1000BC.
In the 1800s, western colonizers documented 5,000 to 6,000 nomadic Cucapás, who organised in clans and followed the turbulent river to fish and cultivate the fertile banks of the Colorado delta.
Now, official figures suggest fewer than 400 remain in Mexico and around a thousand in Yuma, Arizona – the Cucapá were among several native tribes divided by the Mexico-US war and 1848 border treaty. The population decline is partially blamed on the demise of the river.
A 1944 binational river treaty guaranteed Mexico 1.5m acres-feet of water annually, all of it destined for agriculture. Today, at least 85% still goes to farmers. The agreement failed to consider the rights of the Cucapá people and their primordial relationship with the river. As a result, traditional riverine ceremonies, medicines, fruits and grains, along with native trees and shrubs used to make houses, boats and clothes, are now scarce.
Losing the river, argue Cucapá leaders, has destroyed the social fabric of the community: the language is close to extinction, spiritual ceremonies are forgotten, and youngsters are forced to migrate.
“People abandoned the community because there’s no river, no fish and no life here. It’s cost us our language, culture and identity,” said Antonia González, Inocencia’s daughter who runs the museum.
In Arizona, the tribe, known as the Cocopah, has federally guaranteed rights to water from the Colorado, though there, too, traditional riverine customs and foods have radically declined.

‘We’re not used to living like this’

El Mayor is a dusty, poor neighborhood founded after scores of riverside households were scattered when the river burst its banks in 1979. US dams, brimming with excessive rainfall and melting snow, had released huge amounts of water, and Mexican flood defences were ill-equipped to cope.
The Cucapá were badly affected, and forced to relocate from dispersed rural homesteads to tightly packed neighbourhoods. El Mayor has the biggest diaspora, and conditions remain basic: there is a hodgepodge of improvised houses and old American trailers divided by sandy gravelled roads, barbed-wire fences, and drooping salty pines.
The community has been blighted by alcohol and drug abuse, crystal meth in particular, as well as alarming rates of diabetes, asthma and cancer. Roofs provided by the government in 1979 were riddled with asbestos and were left in place for three decades.
“We’re not used to living like this, and being so close together has generated jealousies and divisions that never existed before. The biggest threat we face is internal conflict,” added Antonia González, who teaches teenagers Cucapá folk stories, dance and songs in an effort to instill traditional values linked to mother nature.
Nevertheless, the flood years weren’t all bad, said tribal elder Inocencia. The glut of water meant the river flowed and the Laguna Salada, a vast sandy depression west of El Mayor, filled with freshwater and high tides from the Gulf of California, resulting in plentiful fish.
The lagoon dried up when the manmade floods subsided, forcing the Cucapá to start fishing in the open sea for sea bass – known as the croaker for its deafening mating call – which congregate in the Sea of Cortez separating the slender Baja California peninsula from the Mexican mainland, between February and May.
It became an economic lifeline for the Cucapá, but croaker stocks are declining as a result of illegal fishing, corruption and the climate crisis, posing yet another threat to the Cucapá.
This year, Francisco Javier Gonzales, who runs El Mayor’s only shop, is indebted after failing to recoup the money spent on petrol and equipment for the third consecutive croaker season.
“The [1944] treaty was catastrophic for us. We were never consulted and no one has apologized or compensated us for the way our lives have been drastically changed by losing the river. The Cucapá are river people, not sea people, but now we’re being forced from the sea as well.”
But there is some cause for optimism. Conservation efforts, which includes dredging sections of the dry riverbed and reforestation – are helping tidal waves from the gulf encroach further into the river delta to create small, glistening wetlands that attract hungry pelicans and egrets. For the Cucapá, restoring these natural aquatic connections could also help save their way of life.
Inés Hurtado, 52, a Cucapá leader, said: “The wetlands bring fish, and the fish are what sustain us. We have to protect them.”

'It's where we come from': the River People in Mexico left without a river | Environment | The Guardian