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

Rep. Mark DeSaulnierMark James DeSaulnierDozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House Rep. DeSaulnier leaves ICU after 3 weeks to continue treatment for pneumonia Rep. DeSaulnier in critical condition due to pneumonia 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 TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days 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 RooneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Gohmert tests positive; safety fears escalate on Capitol Hill Pelosi to require masks on House floor Rooney becomes first House Republican to use proxy voting system MORE (Fla.) expressed concern last week over acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyFauci says positive White House task force reports don't always match what he hears on the ground Bottom line White House, Senate GOP clash over testing funds 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