On October 22, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor gave damning testimony to Congress detailing President Donald Trump’s efforts to withhold military aid unless Ukraine announced investigations into Trump’s political rivals. Now, right-wing media are continuing to defend Trump by working to discredit Taylor.
Tuesday’s closed-door testimony contradicted Trump’s insistence that he never pressured Ukraine in a corrupt quid pro quo. Taylor also detailed a “highly irregular” diplomatic channel to Ukraine led by Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani that undermined Taylor’s expertise and authority. In his 15-page opening statement, Taylor made clear that he was deeply concerned by Trump’s efforts to demand Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of [Democratic presidential candidate Joe] Biden and 2016 election interference.”
Right-wing media figures are defending Trump’s actions, insisting that the quid pro quo and his use of a second channel to conduct shadow diplomacy is typical of U.S. foreign policy despite Taylor’s testimony that it is not normal. Some are also working to smear and discredit Taylor, despite his decades of public service and military experience.
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said that “you have to suspend disbelief” to believe that Trump denied aid to Ukraine based on Taylor’s testimony. Co-host Ainsley Earhardt said, “It sounds like Bill Taylor didn’t like the Rudy Giuliani track. He was disappointed with the way the president was handling things and Rudy Giuliani was handling things. It doesn’t mean that there was quid pro quo.”
Discussing Taylor’s testimony of Trump’s actions, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs asked, “What’s the big deal?” Guest Sidney Powell agreed that Democrats “keep trying to make things up as they go” and claimed they are “absolutely grasping for straws.”
On Hannity, Fox contributor Dan Bongino dismissed Taylor’s testimony and falsely claimed that it revealed there was no quid pro quo.
On The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham smeared Taylor as “a ‘Never Trumper’ himself” before implying that strong reactions to his testimony from members of Congress are all “spin.”
Fox News’ online headline paraphrased House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) spin on The Ingraham Angle, claiming that “Republican lawmaker 'destroyed' latest impeachment inquiry witness argument.”
Conservative commentator Bill Mitchell said on Twitter that Taylor “is clearly a #DeepState hack. His wild accusations against Trump were destroyed under Republican cross examination.”
Fox contributor Newt Gingrich said that he presumes “Taylor doesn’t like Trump’s style and ... Taylor disagreed with Trump’s policies,” but “that doesn’t make it impeachable.” Gingrich also claimed that “this idea that somehow Trump is doing something unique is a purely made-up bunch of baloney.”
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt pointed to outrage from “the left” about Taylor’s testimony as proof of the “weakness of [the] case.” Hewitt's tweets downplaying Taylor's testimony led to widespread mockery by journalists, historians, and others on Twitter.
Discussing Taylor’s testimony, conservative columnist Betsy McCaughey wrote that “disagreeing with the foreign-policy elites is not an impeachable offense,” adding that “millions of Americans are cheering Trump on.”
One America News Network’s Jack Posobiec called for Taylor to be fired “immediately for undermining US foreign policy, failure to duly represent the President, and for putting the interests of a foreign country over the interests of the American people.” He added, “There is one president and it’s not Bill Taylor.”