President Trump and some of his allies continue to argue that there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine, and it seems Democrats’ first order of business in their public testimonies is to establish that there was one.

The first witness they called to testify publicly, acting ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor Jr., described how he came to understand these conditions were placed on Ukraine by Trump: President Volodymyr Zelensky would get an Oval Office meeting and, most important, $400 million in security assistance to fight Russian separatists, when he announced investigations tied to the Biden family and the 2016 U.S. election.

Taylor said he didn’t hear this directly from Trump, but he described how he pieced the quid pro quo arrangement together from conversations with Trump’s political appointees, who were conducting the president’s Ukraine policy outside the regular diplomatic channel that Taylor was part of. Taylor based this on what he heard from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and national security officials, such as then-national security adviser John Bolton and Bolton’s top aide, Tim Morrison.

Below are three key exchanges from Taylor’s testimony that underscore how he understood the arrangement. Given this was Taylor’s second testimony before the committee — the first was last month — it’s safe to say Democrats who are in charge of the hearings felt he makes a strong case, one that they wanted to highlight before the public at a pivotal moment in the impeachment inquiry.

On Trump’s denials of a quid pro quo

Let’s start with something Taylor said in his opening statement. As Taylor got more and more concerned the Trump administration was pressuring Ukrainians over their security aid, Sondland emphasized to Taylor that Trump didn’t want a quid pro quo in name. But Taylor says he didn’t buy that.

Ambassador Sondland also said that he had talked to President Zelenskyy and Mr. Yermak and had told them that, although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelenskyy did not “clear things up” in public, we would be at a “stalemate.” I understood a “stalemate” to mean that Ukraine would not receive the much-needed military assistance. Ambassador Sondland said that this conversation concluded with President Zelenskyy agreeing to make a public statement in an interview on CNN.
-Taylor opening statement

A central narrative in Taylor’s testimony is that he pushed back on Sondland’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats. Taylor understood it would seriously ding Ukraine’s bipartisan support in the United States by making them take sides. It’s through those debates with Sondland where he learns there is a quid pro quo.

“Ambassador Sondland said that if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate,” Taylor testified. “He began that again by repeating: ‘This is not a quid pro quo, but if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate.' And what I understood for, in that meeting, the meaning of stalemate was the security assistance would not come.”

Democrats’ attorney Daniel Goldman asks Taylor: “So even though he said the words, ‘There were no quid pro quo,’ he then went on to say, ‘But the security assistance will not come unless these investigations are done.’ Is that what you’re saying?”

Taylor agrees. “My understanding is that’s what was meant by stalemate.”

On whether Sondland told Ukrainians there was essentially a quid pro quo

Republicans tried to argue Taylor may have misremembered some of this. But Taylor points out that his testimony was underscored by the person who talked to the president himself, Sondland.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) asked Taylor how he got such a clear understanding of a quid pro quo, and Taylor replied that Sondland told him it was happening in so many words — and then confirmed in an addendum to his testimony in Congress there was a quid pro quo.

“I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Sondland said in his amended testimony, referencing Zelensky aide Andriy Yermak.

“Mr. Jordan,” Taylor says, “the way I read this, he remembers it the same way I do.”

On whether Ukraine knew the aid was withheld and why

What Ukraine knew when would go a long way toward confirming there was a quid pro quo. Under questioning from Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.), Taylor confirmed that at the time Trump asked Zelensky to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election in their July phone call, Ukraine didn’t even know that military assistance Congress had approved for Ukraine was being withheld by the Trump administration.

But Ukraine eventually did find out after Politico published an article in August. At the time, Ukrainian officials knew Trump wanted investigations into Democrats — Trump asked as much of Zelensky on the July phone call.

Taylor says that’s when it clicked for Ukrainians there was a quid pro quo. And then Sondland told Ukrainians as much in September.

Here is an exchange that lays this all out between Taylor and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.):

SCHIFF: At the time they found out, they knew what President Trump wanted from them, that he wanted these investigations, correct?
TAYLOR: Ambassador Sondland informed President Zelensky’s staff, that is Mr. Yermak, of what was required, yes.
SCHIFF: So Ukraine finds out about the hold, you’re not able to give them a reason for the hold. No one is able to give them a reason for the hold. They know the president wants these investigations. And then they’re told in Warsaw by Ambassador Sondland essentially ‘You’re not getting the aid unless you do the investigations,' correct?
TAYLOR: That’s correct.
SCHIFF: So you’ve been asked how could there be conditioning if the Ukrainians didn’t know. But Ukrainians were told by Ambassador Sondland, were they not?
TAYLOR: They were. They didn’t know, as near as I can tell, the Ukrainians didn’t know about the hold on the phone call, July 25th. That’s true. But they were told as you said, Mr. Chairman, on the first of September.
SCHIFF: And in fact, while they may not have known during the time of the call, they would find out. And when they did find out, they would know what the president wanted, correct?
TAYLOR: That’s correct.