House Democrat: Taylor's impeachment testimony made 'very clear' there was a quid pro quo

Rep. Mark DeSaulnierMark James DeSaulnierDemocratic lawmaker laments Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine House Democrat expects impeachment vote before 2020 Democratic congressman talks latest developments in impeachment inquiry MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that the testimony of a top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine the previous day made it clear President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE withheld aid to Ukraine as part of a desire for the country to conduct investigations that would benefit him politically.

William Taylor, the U.S. chargé d'affaires in Ukraine, said in a closed-door testimony Tuesday that he believed the Trump administration held up nearly $400 million in military aid as leverage to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Trump’s political rivals.

“What was surprising was how clear it was that this was quid pro quo in spite of his denials,” DeSaulnier, a member of the House Oversight Committee, told Hill.TV. “It was very clear that he was leveraging almost $400 million of security support. So it was very clear when Ambassador Taylor spoke.”

The Oversight Committee is one of three House panels leading the impeachment probe.

Democratic lawmakers said Taylor’s testimony marked the most detailed and damning testimony yet in the the impeachment probe.

However, many Republicans remained unmoved, describing Taylor’s testimony as an official putting his “interpretation” on the administrations communications with Ukraine.

DeSaulnier, who was among the 95 Democrats who voted in favor of impeachment in July, said he wasn’t optimistic about House Republicans breaking with their party over the issue.

“This is so different from when I was a young man when we went through Watergate, where you had people on the Republican side who agreed a line had been crossed ethically and the lines have changed apparently,” he told Hill.TV.

Still, not all Republicans are on the same page.

Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyBipartisan Senate climate caucus grows by six members House Democrat: Taylor's impeachment testimony made 'very clear' there was a quid pro quo New bipartisan Senate climate caucus aims to take 'politics' out of the topic MORE (Fla.) expressed concern last week over acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Swalwell: Depositions provided evidence of an 'extortion scheme' Intelligence panel Republican: 'How we treat this whistleblower will impact whistleblowers in the future' MORE's admission that Ukraine military aid was contingent on a requested probe related to the 2016 election.

Though Mulvaney later walked back those remarks, Rooney told CNN's Poppy Harlow that it was "very clear" that there was a quid pro quo. 

“Whatever might have been gray and unclear before is certainly quite clear right now that the actions were related to getting someone in the Ukraine to do some of these things,” Rooney said. He later announced that he would not be seeking reelection next year.

 —Tess Bonn