Previously: This week got started with a shuffling of the calendar to accommodate memorials for Rep Elijah Cummings, whose unexpected death last week, and his role as the chair of the House Oversight Committee, continues to have ripple effects on the impeachment inquiry. As a result, only two testimonies are currently scheduled. However, today's was a big one so let's just get right to it.
William Taylor, the US chargé d'affaires (the fancy term for "acting ambassador") for Ukraine testified to House investigative committees today over the protest of the State Department, who attempted to block his testimony this morning. Working from extensive notes, Taylor is reported to have "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." Taylor's testimony—which we will almost certainly learn more about in the coming days—directly contradicts the president's assertion that there was "no quid pro quo" between US aid and political investigations by Ukraine. In actuality, according to the New York Times the testimony drew a "direct line" between foreign aid and Trump's political aims. (Source: New York Times)
While we don't know much about the substance of Taylor's testimony yet, his 15 page opening statement has leaked and it paints a very clear picture of a months-long campaign involving EU ambassador Gordon Sondland, US special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker (both of whom have already testified to House committees), and Rudy Giuliani to get Ukraine to capitulate to President Trump's demands in return for military aid. The statement, which paints a timeline stretching back to Ukrainian president Zelensky's election, describes a "weird combination of encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances." The timeline is detailed, damning, and worth reading in all of its PDF-y goodness. (Source: Washington Post)
Speaking of Kurt Volker, US special envoy to Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal today reports on a meeting between Volker and Ukrainian president Zelensky in Toronto on July second, weeks before Trump's July 25 call with Zelensky. Volker "pulled Mr. Zelensky aside at a conference in Toronto on July 2 to urge him to make clear his commitment to investigating corruption and alleged 2016 election interference," you know, like you do in secret at a conference. This report, along with Taylor's opening statement, certainly stretches the timeline far out from Trump's "perfect" call with the Ukrainian president in late July. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Meanwhile, this morning Donald Trump lashed out at the impeachment proceedings saying "all Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here—a lynching." Stares. As you... Stares again. As you might expect, this particular line of ahistorical attack did not go over well with almost anyone, prompting rare condemnation even from Republicans. "Given the history of this in our country, I would not compare it to a lynching,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "That was an unfortunate choice of words." Democratic Representative Danny Davis was far more blunt in his assessment: "What the hell is wrong with you?" he asked. "Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you. Delete this tweet." (Source: Politico)
Finally, the New York Times reported last night that House Democrats have extended their timeline for impeachment proceedings—now expected to stretch to at least the end of the year. Why? Well, "after a complicated web of damaging revelations about the president has emerged from private depositions unfolding behind closed doors, Democratic leaders have now begun plotting a full-scale—and probably more time-consuming—effort to lay out their case in a set of high-profile public hearings on Capitol Hill." So I guess we'll be together for a while longer still. I work for tips. Lololol. Cries. (Source: New York Times)
What's coming next: Due to yesterday's announcement that the House will be closed for regular business Thursday and Friday to memorialize Rep Elijah Cummings, tomorrow is the last "real" day of the impeachment inquiry and features the testimony of DOD official Laura Cooper. We'll probably learn more about both Taylor and Cooper's testimonies in the days ahead, which should definitely prompt very chill responses from the president I am sure.