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

Rep. Mark DeSaulnierMark James DeSaulnierThe administration banned many flavored vaping products — but it's not enough Democratic lawmaker laments Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine House Democrat expects impeachment vote before 2020 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 TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' 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 Rooney2 Democrats say they voted against war powers resolution 'because it merely restated existing law' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi plans to send impeachment articles next week NY Times's Haberman: Trump 'surprised' Iranian strike wasn't 'more of a unifying event' MORE (Fla.) expressed concern last week over acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyHouse Democrats may call new impeachment witnesses if Senate doesn't Graham: Abuse of power 'poorly defined' in articles of impeachment Democrats file brief against Trump, 'the Framers' worst nightmare' 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