The top United States diplomat in Ukraine delivered what one former top lawyer for the U.S. government called "devastating" testimony on Tuesday. In his written statement, posted online by The Washington Post, acting Ambassador Bill Taylor directly linked Donald Trump to what one ex-FBI agent has described as an illegal "black propaganda" operation against the American people.
Taylor's testimony alleges that Trump explicitly conditioned the release of badly needed military aid to Ukraine on whether or not that country's new president Volodymyr Zelensky would publicly announce investigations into the son of leading Democratic Presidential contender Joe Biden, who was employed by a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma. The testimony was based on Taylor's own extensive notes of his conversations with Trump administration European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland and other officials.
Trump also demanded that, as a condition of receiving the aid, Zelnesky also personally announce an "investigation" into "2016 election interference." As The Inquisitr has reported, Trump appears to believe an internet conspiracy theory that holds, without any evidence, that Ukraine rather than Russia sabotaged the 2016 presidential election — and that the fictional Ukrainian interference was designed to benefit Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Three major investigations — but the U.S. intelligence community, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and special counsel Robert Mueller — have concluded the opposite. Evidence shows the investigations agree that Russia illegally interfered in the election to damage Clinton and boost Trump.
According to Taylor's written testimony, Trump told Sondland that Zelensky must "go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself."
Taylor's testimony was described via Twitter as "devastating" to Trump, by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neil Katyal.
While it had generally been reported, including by The Inquisitr, that Trump had allegedly conditioned the aid on Ukraine's opening of investigations into Biden and the 2016 election conspiracy theory, Taylor's testimony added a new dimension to the narrative, suggesting that the announcement of the investigations was at least equally important to Trump as the investigations themselves.
According to a Twitter essay by former FBI agent Asha Rangappa, who is now a CNN commentator, Trump's demand for the announcement by Zelensky would qualify as a crime in itself, as illegal "black propaganda."
"Black propaganda attempts to conceal the true source of information, so that the target cannot accurately assess the credibility of the message or the motives of the source behind it," Rangappa wrote.
"Trump wanted to cloak his own role and motives behind a statement of a foreign country."The "target" in the case of the announcements demanded by Trump would be "the American public," Rangappa wrote, saying that Trump's demand constitutes "an illegal covert psyop on the American public." By causing Ukraine to appear as if it independently decided to open the Biden and 2016 investigations, "Trump could then use this to bolster his own views."
A "psyop," short for "psychological operation" is an attempt to secretly manipulate public opinion or perception of an issue, using propaganda and disinformation.
"It's literally a version of what Russia did in 2016," Rangappa wrote.