READ: Taylor Reveals New Trump Phone Call On 'Investigations' In Opening Statement
Updated at 1:06 p.m. ET
William Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, is presenting fresh information in the first public hearing of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, telling lawmakers that Trump had asked Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about "the investigations" during a phone conversation that was witnessed by an aide to Taylor.
Taylor said that he was told last Friday by that aide about a July 26 meeting between Sondland and Andrey Yermak, an aide to Ukraine's president, at which the staff member was present.
"Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about 'the investigations,' " Taylor told lawmakers in his opening statement. "Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for."
Taylor said he did not have this information at the time he gave a closed-door deposition on Oct. 22 before the House impeachment inquiry. Congress released the transcript of that deposition on Nov. 6.
An attorney for Sondland tells NPR's Michele Kelemen that they have no comment but says Sondland will address the new information in his testimony next week.
Taylor had previously testified that Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, orchestrated a pressure campaign on Ukraine on the president's behalf to try to cast former Vice President Joe Biden "in a bad light."
Taylor told investigators that he learned about Trump's desire for investigations from other diplomats and couldn't explain to Ukrainians why their military assistance had been withheld over the summer.
Taylor is testifying alongside Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent in Wednesday's hearing. Kent has also testified that Giuliani's "effort to gin up politically motivated investigations were ... infecting U.S. engagement with Ukraine."
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.