In a remarkable opening statement preceding testimony offered to the House Intelligence Committee, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr., outlined how he learned that senior administration officials — including President Trump — sought to tie aid to Ukraine to investigations of possible political benefit to the president.

Taylor’s testimony was the most direct and thorough articulation to date of how Trump and his aides sought to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into launching joint investigations targeting former vice president Joe Biden (a possible 2020 opponent of Trump’s) and the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee (which has no obvious connection to Ukraine). To get those probes, Trump’s team appears to have withheld two things of value to Zelensky: a meeting at the White House and military and economic aid approved by Congress.

Taylor presented Trump’s effort in the form of a timeline. We have summarized Taylor’s presentation and added other important moments and events from our existing Ukraine timeline. Timeline items from Taylor’s opening statement are marked in yellow.

Important individuals

John Bolton. Trump’s national security adviser until Sept. 10.

Oleksandr Danyliuk. Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council until the end of September.

Rudolph W. Giuliani. Trump’s personal attorney.

Fiona Hill. A National Security Council adviser on Russia until late July.

Tim Morrison. Hill’s replacement.

Mick Mulvaney. Acting White House chief of staff.

Rick Perry. Energy secretary. One of the “three amigos” working on Ukraine for Trump.

Mike Pompeo. Secretary of state.

Petro Poroshenko. President of Ukraine until May 2019.

Viktor Shokin. Former prosecutor general for Ukraine.

Gordon Sondland. The U.S. ambassador to the European Union. One of the “three amigos” working on Ukraine for Trump.

Kurt Volker. U.S. special envoy to Ukraine until last month. One of the “three amigos” working on Ukraine for Trump.

Andrey Yermak. An adviser to Zelensky.

Volodymyr Zelensky. President of Ukraine.

The timeline

May 13, 2014. Hunter Biden, a son of then-vice president Joe Biden, joins the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. It is owned by oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, one of several subjects of a probe into Ukrainian corruption launched earlier that year.

Feb. 10, 2015. Shokin becomes Ukraine’s prosecutor general.

Dec. 8, 2015: In Kyiv, Biden tells Ukrainian leaders to fire Shokin or lose more than $1 billion in loan guarantees. Biden joins many Western leaders and several other American officials in urging Shokin’s ouster in an effort to better address corruption in Ukraine. Biden repeats the demand several more times over the next few months.

Spring 2016. Russian hackers access the network of the Democratic National Committee and steal various messages and documents. They are released in July, shortly before the Democratic National Convention.

March 29, 2016. Shokin is ousted from his position by Ukraine’s parliament.

Nov. 8, 2016. Donald Trump is elected president.

April 21, 2017: President Trump for the first time floats a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine might have played a role in falsely blaming Russia for its 2016 election interference.

June 8, 2017: Giuliani meets with then-Ukrainian President Poroshenko and Shokin’s replacement, Yuri Lutsenko, according to a later-released House investigation.

Jan. 23, 2018. At an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, Joe Biden describes the pressure he applied on Ukraine’s government. This becomes central to Trump’s unfounded charge that Biden acted inappropriately by pushing for Shokin’s ouster to protect Hunter Biden.

May 9, 2018. Two associates of Giuliani’s meet with Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) in Sessions’s Capitol Hill office. That same day, Sessions writes to the State Department seeking the dismissal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Sessions says he has “notice of concrete evidence” that she had “spoken privately and repeatedly about her disdain for the current Administration.”

Late 2018. Giuliani speaks with Shokin, according to the whistleblower complaint.

March 20, 2019. In an interview with pro-Trump columnist John Solomon, Lutsenko alleges that Yovanovitch gave him “a list of people whom we should not prosecute.” The State Department calls the claim an “outright fabrication,” but Trump promotes the story in a tweet.

March 31. The first round of Ukraine’s presidential election is held. Poroshenko and Zelensky head to a runoff.

Mid-April. Hunter Biden’s term as a Burisma board member ends.

April 18. Lutsenko retracts his claim that Yovanovitch gave him a list of people not to prosecute.

April 21: Zelensky, a former TV comedian, is elected president of Ukraine with 73 percent of the vote. Trump calls him to offer his congratulations.

Late April: Yovanovitch is summoned back to Washington “on the next plane,” according to her later congressional deposition. Once home, she says, she meets with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who informs her that her time as ambassador is being curtailed.

May 1. The New York Times publishes a story tying Joe Biden’s pressure campaign in Ukraine to Shokin having investigated Burisma, portraying it as a potential liability in his 2020 campaign.

May 7. It is reported that Yovanovitch has been recalled by the State Department, two months before her scheduled departure date. Democrats allege a “political hit job” aimed at creating a pretext to remove her. Yovanovitch will later say in a deposition that Trump pressured the State Department to remove her.

May 9. Giuliani tells the New York Times that he will travel to Ukraine to push for investigations, “because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.” He later cancels the trip.

May 14. Trump tells Vice President Pence not to attend Zelensky’s inauguration, according to the whistleblower. Instead, Perry attends. The whistleblower says it was “made clear” to them that “the President did not want to meet with Mr. Zelenskyy until he saw how Zelenskyy ‘chose to act’ in office.”

Giuliani tells a Ukrainian journalist that Yovanovitch was “removed … because she was part of the efforts against the president.”

May 16. Lutsenko says there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by the Bidens.

May 19. In an interview with Fox News, Trump explicitly references Biden’s efforts in Ukraine.

May 20. Zelensky is inaugurated as president of Ukraine. Shortly afterward, Giuliani meets with Ukrainian officials who are allied with Lutsenko and who made allegations included in Solomon’s reporting.

May 23. Sondland, Perry and Volker meet with Trump in the White House. The president instructs them to work with Giuliani on Ukraine issues. The three begin to identify themselves as the “three amigos” on Ukraine issues.

May 28. Taylor meets with Pompeo, who asks him to lead the embassy in Ukraine. Aware of the circumstances surrounding Yovanovitch’s ouster, Taylor tells Pompeo that he would hold the position only if there is a continuance of existing policy toward Ukraine.

June 13: In an interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump says he might accept electoral assistance from a foreign government if offered.

June 17. Taylor arrives in Kyiv. He brings with him a letter from Trump congratulating Zelensky on his election and inviting the new Ukrainian president to visit him in Washington.

He quickly discovered that there were two tracks along which policy toward Ukraine traveled: The official track, which he led, and “an irregular, informal channel” involving Sondland, Volker, Perry and, he later learned, Giuliani. The informal channel, he learned, was formed at the May 23 meeting.

June 18. Taylor participates in a conference call that included Volker, Sondland, Perry and others. The group agrees that a Trump-Zelensky meeting should be a goal. In subsequent conversations with Sondland and Volker, the two tell Taylor that Trump “wanted to hear from Zelensky” before meeting him.

June 20. In an interview with Fox News, Trump links Ukraine and the effort to hack the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election without evidence.

June 21: Giuliani tweets that Zelensky is “still silent on investigation of Ukrainian interference in 2016 election and alleged Biden bribery of Pres Poroshenko.”

June 27. Taylor gets his first hints of reticence about a meeting. In a call with Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union tells Taylor that Zelensky needed to “make clear to President Trump that he … was not standing in the way of ‘investigations.’”

June 28. Before a scheduled call with Zelensky, Sondland informs Taylor that normal participants in such calls would not be included. Before Zelensky joined the call, Sondland insisted that no one take notes on what was said. He also told participants that, when meeting with Zelensky in Toronto in early July, he would make clear that Trump was insistent on “cooperation on investigations,” among other things.

When Zelensky joined the call, he mentioned a prospective visit to Washington.

June 30. Taylor writes a memo memorializing the Zelensky call.

July 10. During a meeting with Zelensky’s staff, Taylor is told that Giuliani had indicated a call between the presidents was unlikely.

Also July 10. A meeting is held at the White House involving Bolton, Perry, Sondland, Volker and Hill. According to the New York Times, Hill testified that, during that meeting, Sondland said a Trump-Zelensky meeting would be predicated on Zelensky’s launching the desired investigations.

That requirement, he reportedly said, came from Mulvaney. Bolton reportedly told Hill to report the comments to White House lawyers.

July 18. During a videoconference call involving a number of participants, Taylor learns from an unidentified Office of Management and Budget official that aid to Ukraine was on hold. The order, she said, came from the White House via Mulvaney.

“In an instant, I realized that one of the key pillars of our strong support for Ukraine was threatened,” he said in his testimony. “The irregular policy channel was running contrary to the goals of long-standing U.S. policy.”

Also July 18. Members of Congress are told that the hold is part of an “interagency delay.”

July 19. In a call, Hill assures Taylor that there was no official change in policy on Ukraine but that Mulvaney “maintained a skeptical view of Ukraine.” Hill told Taylor that Bolton opposed a call between Trump and Zelensky, too — but because it “would be a disaster.”

Hill told Taylor about the events of the July 10 meeting, including that Sondland wanted to talk about a connection between a Trump-Zelensky meeting and “investigations.” She also informed Taylor that Giuliani and Volker had spoken.

Also July 19. Volker texts Sondland about the upcoming Zelensky call with Trump. “Most impt is for Zelensky to say that he will help investigation,” Volker says after having breakfast with Giuliani. Volker separately connects Giuliani and Yermak.

July 20. Taylor and Sondland speak. Sondland tells Taylor that he suggested to Zelensky that he use the phrase “I will leave no stone unturned” in regard to the desired investigations.

In a separate conversation, Danyliuk, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council expresses concern to Taylor about Ukraine being used as a pawn in the 2020 race. Taylor texted Volker and Sondland to relay the concern.

July 21. Taylor tells Sondland via text that “President Zelenskyy is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.”

July 23. OMB reiterates that aid to Ukraine is suspended, per Trump.

July 25. Trump and Zelensky speak on the phone.

Before the call, Volker texts with Yermak and again expresses the importance of Zelensky saying he will investigate. For the first time on record, he also ties this to a potential White House meeting for Zelensky. “Heard from White House-assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Volker says. Sondland and Trump had spoken shortly before the call, as well.

On the call, Trump proceeds to ask Zelensky to open the two desired investigations. Trump repeatedly suggests Attorney General William P. Barr will be involved in working with the Ukrainian government on the investigations. Zelensky tells Trump that his yet-to-be-named new prosecutor general “will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue” — apparently referring to Burisma.

After the call, Yermak texts Volker back, saying, “Phone call went well. President Trump proposed to choose any convenient dates. President Zelenskiy chose 20,21,22 September for the White House Visit.”

Also July 25. Taylor receives no readout of the call.

July 26. During a planned meeting with Zelensky, the Ukrainian president asks Volker and Taylor about the face-to-face meeting.

July 28. Taylor finally hears about the content of the July 25 call, with Hill’s replacement, Morrison, saying that it “could have been better” and that it included a push for meetings with Giuliani and Barr.

July 31: Trump holds a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Aug. 2: Giuliani travels to Madrid, where he meets with Yermak. According to the New York Times, the meeting involves Giuliani’s encouraging Zelensky’s government to investigate Hunter Biden.

Aug. 8. Giuliani tells Fox News that the Justice Department official in charge of investigating the origins of the Russia probe is “spending a lot of time in Europe” to investigate what happened in Ukraine.

Aug. 9. Volker and Sondland text with one another about a statement Ukraine might be asked to issue. Sondland also indicates Trump “really wants the deliverable.” Volker and Sondland consult Giuliani about what the statement should say.

Aug. 10. Yermak emphasizes that Ukraine would like to lock down a date for Zelensky’s visit before making the statement. “I think it’s possible to make this declaration and mention all these things,” Yermak says. “Which we discussed yesterday. But it will be logic to do after we receive a confirmation of date. We inform about date of visit and about our expectations and our guarantees for future visit.”

Aug. 12. An anonymous whistleblower files a complaint related to Trump’s actions on Ukraine.

Aug. 16. Volker informs Taylor that Yermak had asked for an official request for an investigation into Burisma. Taylor recommended they not do so, but he connected Volker with a Justice Department official to weigh in.

Aug. 17: Sondland asks Volker whether “we still want Ze[lensky] to give us an unequivocal draft with 2016 and Boresma [sic]?” Volker responds, “That’s the clear message so far …”

Aug. 22. Taylor asks Morrison whether policy toward Ukraine had changed. “It remains to be seen,” he is told, with Morrison adding that Trump “doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all.” Taylor prepared to potentially resign.

Aug. 27. Bolton arrives in Kyiv to meet with Zelensky. Taylor raises his concerns about the aid stoppage, and Bolton recommends that he send a cable to Pompeo.

Aug. 29. Taylor sends a cable to Pompeo, which he hears the secretary later brought to a White House meeting.

On the same day, Yermak contacts Taylor to ask about the aid stoppage that had been reported by Politico. Taylor is unable to offer an explanation.

Also Aug. 29. Yermak texts Volker a link to the Politico story, as well.

Aug. 30. Sondland tells Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) that Trump was withholding the Ukraine military aid to “get to the bottom of what happened in 2016 — if President Trump has that confidence, then he’ll release the military spending,” according to Johnson’s later recollection.

Aug. 31. Johnson asks Trump about what Sondland told him. Trump denies the assertion — but also reiterates that aid was being withheld because of alleged concerns about “corruption.”

Sept. 1. Pence meets with Zelensky. Pence links the aid stoppage to concerns about corruption.

Morrison tells Taylor about the Pence-Zelensky meeting. He also tells Taylor about a conversation between Yermak and Sondland in which Sondland tied the aid to a commitment on a Burisma investigation.

Taylor texts Sondland, asking, “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Sondland responds, “Call me.”

During that call, Sondland tells Taylor that Trump wanted a public statement announcing two investigations. Sondland also says it was a mistake to tell the Ukrainians that a meeting depended on the initiation of investigations when, in reality, “everything” depended on such an announcement. Taylor asked Sondland to push back on Trump’s request.

Sept. 2. Morrison tells Taylor that Danyliuk, had expressed concern about the halt in aid — and the inability of administration officials to explain why it had occurred. Taylor told Morrison he’d had the same problem. He also told Morrison about his conversation with Sondland.

Sept. 5. Taylor brings Sens. Johnson and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to meet Zelensky. Zelensky asks about assistance, and the senators assured him that Ukraine had bipartisan support that should not be risked by his getting involved in domestic politics.

Also Sept. 5. The Washington Post editorial board writes that it had been “reliably told” that Trump was “attempting to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.”

Sept. 7. Taylor speaks with Morrison, who tells him about a conversation between Sondland and Trump. Trump tells Sondland that he wasn’t asking for a quid pro quo — but also that Zelensky would have to announce investigations of his own volition. Morrison tells Taylor that he had informed Bolton about the conversation.

Sept. 8. Sondland and Taylor talk. Sondland repeats Trump’s claim that there was no quid pro quo but also that Zelensky needed to “clear things up and do it in public.” Sondland had conveyed this to Zelensky, telling him that a failure to publicly “clear things up” would result in a “stalemate” — which Taylor understood to mean that aid would be held. Zelensky told Sondland he would make the statement in an interview with CNN.

Sondland tells Taylor that Trump is a businessman who insists that those who owe him something pay up before Trump signs any checks. Taylor tells Sondland that the analogy fails because Ukraine doesn’t owe the United States anything.

After the call, Taylor texts Sondland.

“The nightmare is they give the interview and don’t get the security assistance,” he writes. “The Russians love it. (And I quit.)”

Sept. 9. Taylor texts Sondland again about the idea that the military aid is being withheld in some kind of quid pro quo. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor says.

Sondland speaks with Trump via phone and responds to Taylor: “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign I suggest we stop the back and forth by text If you still have concerns I recommend you give Lisa Kenna or S a call to discuss them directly. Thanks.”

Also Sept. 9. House Democrats announce a probe into Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine.

Sept. 10. Bolton leaves the White House.

Sept. 11. The hold on the aid is lifted. Taylor informs Zelensky. He later reminds Yermak of the value of maintaining a bipartisan relationship with the United States.

Sept. 12. Danyliuk tells Taylor that Zelensky wouldn’t announce investigations during a CNN interview.

Sept. 13. During a meeting with Zelensky, Taylor detects discomfort from the Ukrainian president when he again asks that investigations not be announced.

Also Sept. 13. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) issues a subpoena to compel the administration to disclose the whistleblower complaint.

Sept. 25. Under pressure, Trump releases a transcript of his July 25 call with Zelensky. The Ukrainians are “livid” about its release, according to Taylor.

Aaron Blake contributed to this report.


The Sept. 1 item has been corrected to match Taylor's testimony.