The top diplomat in Ukraine is answering questions about what he described as a “crazy” quid pro quo.
William B. Taylor Jr., the United States ambassador to Ukraine, on Tuesday became the latest Trump administration official to defy an administration blockade of the impeachment inquiry and make his way to Capitol Hill to offer his account to investigators as they search for answers about Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine.
Mr. Taylor is expected to be questioned about a series of text messages from September revealed by a former colleague, Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, in which Mr. Taylor wrote that he thought it was “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
That exchange and others appeared to suggest that the Trump administration was trying to use a $391 million package of aid to Ukraine and the prospect of a White House meeting as leverage to squeeze the nation’s president to open investigations that would boost Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign — and that Mr. Taylor was alarmed by the efforts.
Democrats have argued that the mere suggestion by Mr. Trump that Ukraine investigate his political rivals is potentially impeachable conduct, calling it an abuse of power. But investigators are eager to uncover any evidence of an explicit quid pro quo, and Mr. Taylor could be crucial to filling out that picture.
The State Department tried to block Mr. Taylor from appearing for Tuesday’s deposition, or to limit his testimony if he did, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry who insisted on anonymity to described the negotiations. So early Tuesday morning, in keeping with a pattern that has allowed investigators to extract crucial information from numerous administration witnesses, the House Intelligence Committee quietly issued a subpoena to compel Mr. Taylor to testify, and he complied.
— Nicholas Fandos
Trump calls the impeachment inquiry a “lynching,” comparing a process enshrined in the Constitution to the brutal murder of African Americans.
Mr. Trump took to Twitter early Tuesday to denounce the impeachment inquiry in ugly terms, describing it as a “lynching.”
It was the latest instance of the president, who has been complaining publicly that Republicans are not defending him strongly enough against the impeachment process, portraying himself as a victim being unfairly targeted.
The posting, which sparked swift outrage among Democrats and particularly African Americans, was the second time in two days that the president had publicly disparaged a concept central to the Constitution. On Monday, Mr. Trump referred to the constitutional prohibition against a president profiting from foreign governments as the “phony Emoluments Clause.”
Representative Bobby L. Rush, Democrat of Illinois, implored Mr. Trump to delete his Tuesday morning tweet, citing the ugly history of lynching in the United States. “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.”
Some Republicans were also clearly uncomfortable with Mr. Trump’s words.
Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, denounced the impeachment inquiry and said it lacked due process, but said of the president’s tweet, “That’s not the language I would use.”
“I don’t agree with that language,” Mr. McCarthy added. “It’s pretty simple.”
Catch up on impeachment: What you need to know about the inquiry.
President Trump repeatedly pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate people and issues of political concern to Mr. Trump, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Here’s a timeline of events since January.
A C.I.A. officer who was once detailed to the White House filed a whistle-blower complaint on Mr. Trump’s interactions with Mr. Zelensky. Read the complaint.