The Slatest

Today’s Impeach-O-Meter: Gasp-Inducing Testimony Confirms Corrupt Quid Pro Quo for Billionth Time

Taylor, wearing a black suit with a white shirt, walks outdoors while flanked by police officers.
Bill Taylor, U.S. chargé d’affaires for Ukraine, on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Olivier Douliery/AFP/via Getty Images

The relaunched Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative estimate of the likelihood that the House votes to impeach Trump before the end of his first term.

We’ve known since the House Intelligence Committee released a batch of text messages early this month that State Department official Bill Taylor told colleagues he was concerned that the Trump administration was withholding congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine until the country provided “help with a political campaign,” namely Trump’s potential 2020 campaign against Joe Biden. (Taylor was the U.S.’s chargé d’affaires—aka its top-ranking foreign service officer—in Kyiv.) Though Taylor once worked for Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, his résumé is heavy on Republican-friendly credentials as well: He’s a West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran who worked as the director of the “Iraq Reconstruction Management Office” under George W. Bush. Insofar as anyone can have bipartisan credibility in Our Polarized Age, Taylor has it, and signs pointed toward his giving testimony that further confirmed the existence of a quid pro quo

According to reports from his closed-door session with House Intel on Tuesday and excerpts from his leaked opening statement, Taylor delivered. Accounts of the reactions to his testimony sound like they’re describing Victorian aristocrats learning that Lady Bambridge has divorced Lord Bambridge and eloped with an Irishman:

[Clutching a puffy cravat] Why, I do say!

Particularly notable were reactions from veteran Democrats like Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch who were not early supporters of impeachment:

Taylor’s statement says that he was told by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland that Trump had made military aid to Ukraine and an invitation to its president to visit the White House, conditional on an official announcement that Ukraine was investigating 1) a company that Joe Biden’s son worked for and 2) Trump’s unshakable, internet message board–derived theory that a “server” containing evidence of 2016 election malfeasance by Democrats is hidden somewhere in the country. From the statement:

Amb. Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with President Zelensky was dependent on a public announcement of investigations — in fact, Amb. Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.

Crank this meter up! Crank it up!

The Impeach-O-Meter at 95 percent.
Illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo and Lisa Larson-Walker/Slate. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.