William Brockenbrough Newton Taylor Jr (born 1947)
William Brockenbrough "Bill" Taylor Jr. (born 1947) is an American diplomat and a former United States ambassador to Ukraine. In June 2019 Taylor returned to Ukraine to serve as the chargé d'affaires for Ukraine.
Taylor is the son of Nancy Dare (Aitcheson) and [William Brockenbrough Taylor Sr (born 1925)], who had been a director of research and development for the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
Like his father, he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, graduating in 1969, in the top 1% of his class. The Howitzer yearbook describes his modesty about his many academic and athletic accomplishments, describing him as "a man who is held in the highest esteem and admiration by all of us." In 1977 he completed graduate studies at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, receiving a Master of Public Policy degree.
After Taylor graduated from West Point, he served in the infantry for six years, including tours of duty in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, and the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam during the War. He commanded a company in the 101st Division, and received a Bronze Star and Air Medal V for heroism. Later, he was an aero-rifle commander in the 2nd United States Cavalry Regiment, defending NATO in Germany across the border of Czechoslovakia controlled by the Warsaw Pact and the Eastern Bloc including several countries that had been invaded and occupied by USSR during World War II.
As a civilian he served as Director of Emergency Preparedness Policy in the Department of Energy before serving for five years as Legislative Assistant on the staff of U.S. Senator Bill Bradley (D-N.J.). He then directed a Defense Department think tank at Fort Lesley J. McNair. Following that assignment, he transferred to Brussels for a five year assignment as the Special Deputy Defense Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to NATO, William Howard Taft IV. From 1992 until 2002 Taylor served with the rank of ambassador coordinating assistance to Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, followed by an assignment in Kabul coordinating U.S. and international assistance to Afghanistan. In 2004 he was transferred to Baghdad as Director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office.
Until 2006 he then was the U.S. Government's representative to the Quartet's effort to facilitate the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, led by Special Envoy James Wolfensohn in Jerusalem. The Quartet Special Envoy was responsible for the economic aspects of this disengagement.
Main article: Trump–Ukraine scandal [...]
Taylor arrived in Ukraine a month after the abrupt ousting of Ambassador Yovanovitch and the inauguration of the country's new president Volodymyr Zelensky. But following President Donald Trump's phone call with the new Ukranian president, Taylor questioned Trump's motivation in a text to Gordon Sondland, the United States Ambassador to the European Union: "Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?" Sondland told him to phone.
On October 3, 2019, it was revealed that Taylor had expressed, in text messages, concern that President Trump may have withheld aid to Ukraine unless they investigated corruption in Ukraine and interference in the 2016 US election. According to transcripts released by the house impeachment probe, Taylor on September 9, 2019, at 12:47:11 AM texted, "I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." On October 22, 2019 Taylor's opening statement also explained that Sondland required that Zelensky make public statements announcing an investigation, forcing him to conduct one, before the US released the allocated military aid. Taylor said he feared that Trump would withhold the military aid anyway, handing Moscow everything it wanted from the betrayal, texting Sondland that his "nightmare is that they [the Ukrainians] give the interview and don't get the security assistance. The Russians love it. (And I quit.)."
Over four hours later, at 5:19:35 AM, in his response to Taylor, Gordon Sondland, the United States Ambassador to the European Union, responded that the charge is "incorrect." "Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign." He then suggested Taylor call the Executive Secretary of the United States Department of State about any concerns: "I suggest we stop the back and forth by text If you still have concerns I recommend you give Lisa Kenna or S a call to discuss them directly. Thanks." In his testimony during the impeachment inquiry Sondland noted that it was only out of his deep respect for Taylor that he tried to address Taylor's concerns. Taylor gave a deposition before a closed-door session of the House Intelligence Committee on October 22, 2019.
Testimony in House impeachment inquiry
Opening statement of Ambassador William B. Taylor
On October 22, 2019, Taylor testified before the US Congressional House regarding the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump and the Trump-Ukraine scandal in a closed session. Taylor's opening statement was made public and directly implicated President Trump in a proactive and coordinated effort to solicit a political quid pro quo whereby “everything” - from a one on one meeting with President Trump to $400 million in military aid to Ukraine - would be held up unless Ukrainian President Zelenskyy agreed to announce publicly that “investigations” would be launched including into former VP Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, Burisma, and Ukraine's alleged involvement in the 2016 election. Taylor’s opening statement and testimony was widely viewed as an inflection point in the impeachment inquiry.