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The first day of the public impeachment hearings is in the books! We will have more thoughts throughout the day on the testimony from Ambassador Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, but one thing we did not know we were going to hear, early on in fact, was that Bill Taylor has a NEW story for us, something he just found out about last week from one of his staffers, which implicates Donald Trump as the ringleader of his Ukraine crime spree even more than he already was.

The setting for the incident is July 26, the day after the treason call, in a restaurant in Kyiv (which is pronounced KEEV, as we learned yesterday from the Ukraine expert witnesses). Taylor was not present, but staff members were having Ukrainian chicken salad at the Ukraine Bar and Grill with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, and Trump called Sondland, or Sondland called Trump, point is they were on the phone:


Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26th. While Ambassador [Kurt] Volker and I visited the front, a member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland. Ambassador Sondland met with [Zelenskiy adviser Andriy] Yermak. Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kiev. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump 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.

OK, so let's get this straight. On July 26, the day after the "perfect" call (READ THE TSDJFDACRTIP!) with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Sondland talked to Trump in a public place about the "perfect" call, and what Trump wanted to know about was the "investigations" he had demanded (of Joe Biden and Trump's sad joke conspiracy theories about the 2016 election). Sondland said Ukraine was "ready to move forward" on that. And once they hung up, Taylor's staff member asked what Trump thinks about Ukraine, and Sondland said what Trump THINKS is that it's time to investigate Biden and Hillary's NO COLLUSION with Ukraine.

Wow.

House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff clarified with Taylor afterward that yes, the staff member could hear Trump talking, which means Trump was PRESIDENT LOUD ASS, which is unsurprising. He's rude and gross and we imagine talking to him on the phone is just awful and you can smell the Big Macs through the receiver.

Also, Taylor confirmed that this was a conversation that happened on a cell phone, which means holy shit, President National Security Risk strikes again!

The Washington Post spoke to security experts and concluded that this call was a "stunning breach of security," and that the Russians were almost certainly listening in:

"The security ramifications are insane — using an open cellphone to communicate with the president of the United States," said Larry Pfeiffer, a former senior director of the White House Situation Room and a former chief of staff to the CIA director. "In a country that is so wired with Russian intelligence, you can almost take it to the bank that the Russians were listening in on the call."

Ukraine is SWIMMING with Russian intelligence. This is not like Devin Nunes calling Trump while doing three-legged races with dairy cows on the family farm in California Iowa, assuming of course that the family farm isn't also swimming with Russian intelligence. (MAYBE THERE ARE COW SPIES.)

So if Russia was listening (RUSSIA, IF YOU'RE LISTENING!), that means Russia was getting clued in this summer that Trump was trying to extort Ukraine into doing political favors for him in exchange for investigations and White House visits. Taylor and Kent testified a lot yesterday about how vital it is for Ukraine to be able to negotiate to end its war with Russia from a position of strength, with the full backing of the United States. We bet Putin creamy borscht-ed his pants listening to Sondland and Trump chit-chat on the Obamaphone that day from an Arby's in Kyiv.

The Post has a lot more on why this is bad and how we know Russia is listening to every diplomat's call in Kyiv, but we'll just stick with IT'S BAD.

Couple other things about this new information, though:

1. This kinda drives a stake (or an additional stake) into the heart of the GOP's brilliant new defense that this Ukraine business all happened because Sondland and Rudy Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney were GOIN' ROGUE like a common Sarah Palin, and that Trump had nothing to do with the Ukraine crimes. If Big Treason was on the phone with Sondland the day after the call saying "WHAR INVESTIGATIONS?" then we are pretty sure he was driving the bus.

2. Oh GOLLY, Gordon Sondland "forgot" to share so many things in his testimony, and in his amended testimony! How did this little phone call slip his mind? He now magically "recalls" the quid pro quo he personally delivered to the Ukrainians in Warsaw. What new and amazing things might he suddenly "recall" next week when he testifies on live TV? (That, by the way, will mark the expiration date for Republicans screaming "IT'S ALL HEARSAY!!11!!!!")

The staffer who heard this is named David Holmes, and his deposition before the impeachment inquiries is already scheduled for next Friday, because fuck yeah it is.

How many more crimes will they uncover before this is done?

[Taylor/Kent hearing transcript / Washington Post]

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the senior editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

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