Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, who provided key testimony to the Democrats’ controversial impeachment inquiry last week, led an election observation delegation in Ukraine earlier this year for a George Soros-funded organization that at the time boasted Hunter Biden on its small chairman’s council.
Two months before he came out of retirement to serve as the highest ranking U.S. official in Ukraine, Taylor led an election observer delegation to Ukraine’s April 21, 2019 second round presidential election for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) organization.
The delegation’s mission, according to NDI literature, was to “accurately and impartially assess various aspects of the election process, and to offer recommendations to support peaceful, credible elections and public confidence in the process.”
Taylor led the team along with former Director of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) Audrey Glover and former Minister for European Union Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson.
Hunter Biden at the time served on NDI’s ten person Chairman’s Council, which describes itself as bringing together “leaders from corporate, philanthropic, and academia sectors to provide expertise, counsel and resources to help the Institute meet these evolving challenges.”
Biden was engaged in Ukraine in his role as a board member for Burisma, the Ukranian natural gas company at the center of allegations regarding Joe Biden’s involvement in Ukraine policy during the Obama administration while his son was being paid by Burisma.
NDI did not immediately respond to a Breitbart News inquiry about when Hunter Biden was removed from the organization’s chairman’s council. The WayBack Internet archive shows Biden was listed on NDI’s website in that position until at least August 2019, encompassing the period when Taylor led the organization’s delegation.
Earlier this month, an attorney for Biden said the former vice president’s son had stepped down from the Burisma board and that he planned to step down from the board of BHR, a Chinese company seeking to invest Chinese funds outside China.
The NDI is not Taylor’s only seemingly conspicuous link. Last week, Breitbart News reported that Taylor has evidenced a close relationship with the Atlantic Council think tank, writing Ukraine policy pieces with the organization’s director and analysis articles published by the Council. The Atlantic Council is funded by and works in partnership with Burisma.
In addition to a direct relationship with the Atlantic Council, Taylor for the last nine years also served as a senior adviser to the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), which has co-hosted events with the Atlantic Council and has participated in events co-hosted jointly by the Atlantic Council and Burisma. USUBC events have been financially sponsored by Burisma.
Another senior adviser to the USUBC is David J. Kramer, a long-time adviser to late Senator John McCain. Kramer played a central role in disseminating the anti-Trump dossier to the news media and Obama administration.
Taylor participated in events and initiatives organized by Kramer.
The links may be particularly instructive after Breitbart News reported that itinerary for a trip to Ukraine in August organized by the Burisma-funded Atlantic Council for ten Congressional aides reveals that a staffer on Rep. Adam Schiff’s House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held a meeting during the trip with Taylor. The pre-planned trip took place after the so-called whistleblower officially filed his August 12 complaint and reportedly after a Schiff aide was contacted by the so-called whistleblower.
Common funding themes
Meanwhile, NDI, where Taylor led the election observation delegation, lists partners and sponsors who “provide much-needed resources,” including Soros’s Open Society Foundation, Google Inc., the National Endowment for Democracy, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of State.
Besides Burisma funding, the Atlantic Council is also financed by Soros’s Open Society Foundations, Google, and the U.S. State Department. Another Atlantic Council funder is the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc.,
Google, Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the Rockefeller Fund, and an agency of the State Department each also finance a self-described investigative journalism organization repeatedly referenced as a source of information in the so-called whistleblower’s complaint alleging Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country” in the 2020 presidential race.
The charges in the July 22 report referenced in the so-called whistleblower’s document and released by the Google and Soros-funded organization, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), seem to be the public precursors for a lot of the so-called whistleblower’s own claims, as Breitbart News documented.
One key section of the so-called whistleblower’s document claims that “multiple U.S. officials told me that Mr. Giuliani had reportedly privately reached out to a variety of other Zelensky advisers, including Chief of Staff Andriy Bohdan and Acting Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Ivan Bakanov.”
This was allegedly to follow up on Trump’s call with Zelensky in order to discuss the “cases” mentioned in that call, according to the so-called whistleblower’s narrative. The complainer was clearly referencing Trump’s request for Ukraine to investigate the Biden corruption allegations.
Even though the statement was written in first person – “multiple U.S. officials told me” – it contains a footnote referencing a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
That footnote reads:
In a report published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on 22 July, two associates of Mr. Giuliani reportedly traveled to Kyiv in May 2019 and met with Mr. Bakanov and another close Zelensky adviser, Mr. Serhiy Shefir.
The so-called whistleblower’s account goes on to rely upon that same OCCRP report on three more occasions. It does so to:
- Write that Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko “also stated that he wished to communicate directly with Attorney General Barr on these matters.”
- Document that Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani “had spoken in late 2018 to former Prosecutor General Shokin, in a Skype call arranged by two associates of Mr. Giuliani.”
- Bolster the charge that, “I also learned from a U.S. official that ‘associates’ of Mr. Giuliani were trying to make contact with the incoming Zelenskyy team.” The so-called whistleblower then relates in another footnote, “I do not know whether these associates of Mr. Giuliani were the same individuals named in the 22 July report by OCCRP, referenced above.”
The OCCRP report repeatedly referenced is actually a “joint investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and BuzzFeed News, based on interviews and court and business records in the United States and Ukraine.”
BuzzFeed infamously also first published the full anti-Trump dossier alleging unsubstantiated collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. The dossier was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and was produced by the Fusion GPS opposition dirt outfit.
The OCCRP and BuzzFeed “joint investigation” resulted in both OCCRP and BuzzFeed publishing similar lengthy pieces on July 22 claiming that Giuliani was attempting to use connections to have Ukraine investigate Trump’s political rivals.
The so-called whistleblower’s document, however, only mentions the largely unknown OCCRP and does not reference BuzzFeed, which has faced scrutiny over its reporting on the Russia collusion claims.
Taylor, Atlantic Council, Kramer
Multiple U.S. media outlets last week obtained Taylor’s full opening statement to the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees.
In the leaked pre-written full opening statement, Taylor alluded to work he said he did for a “small Ukrainian non- governmental organization” but he omitted the name of the organization.
“In the intervening 10 years, I have stayed engaged with Ukraine, visiting frequently since 2013 as a board member of a small Ukrainian non- governmental organization supporting good governance and reform,” he said.
The name of the organization is the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), where Taylor served for nine years as senior advisor. The USUBC has co-hosted or participated in scores of events with the Atlantic Council. Taylor has also authored numerous analysis pieces published by the Atlantic Council itself and has co-authored opeds written together with the Atlantic Council’s director.
Burisma is a key financial backer of the Atlantic Council. In 2017, Burisma and the Atlantic Council signed a cooperative agreement to develop transatlantic programs with Burisma’s financial support reportedly to focus “on European and international energy security.” Burisma specifically finances the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.
Besides funding the Atlantic Council, Burisma also routinely partners with the think tank. Only four months ago, the company co-hosted the Atlantic Council’s second Annual Kharkiv Security Conference. Burisma advertises that it committed itself to “15 key principles of rule of law and economic policy in Ukraine developed by the Atlantic Council.”
In March, three months before he became Trump’s ambassador to Ukraine, the Atlantic Council featured an oped co-authored by Taylor in which the diplomat argued Ukraine “has further to travel toward its self-proclaimed European goal” of reformation.
In 2017, Taylor wrote a piece for the Atlantic Council about a Ukrainian parliament vote on health care reform.
Last year, he participated in an online Atlantic Council Q & A on the Crimea.
In November 2011, the Atlantic Council hosted Taylor as the featured speaker at a discussion event when he was appointed that year as Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions at the State Department.
In March 2014, Taylor co-authored an analysis piece at Foreign Policy magazine written together with John E. Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who serves as director of the Eurasia Center for the Atlantic council – the same Eurasia Center that is specifically funded by Burisma.
That same year, Taylor also co-authored a New York Times op-ed with the Atlantic Council’s Herbst on Ukraine. The duo co-authored another Times op-ed one year later on the future of Ukraine. The op-ed was reprinted on the USUBC’s website.
The USUBC, where Taylor was a senior adviser for nine years along with Kramer, has hosted Herbst for briefings and other events.
Kramer of the USUBC, infamous for his role in disseminating the anti-Trump dossier, also held a November 2011 event at the Atlantic Council’s D.C. offices for a group that he heads called Freedom House. Taylor was one of six featured speakers at Kramer’s event.
The Atlantic Council published what it deemed a 24-point plan for ending the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. In conjunction with the plan, Kramer, in his role as director of Freedom House, organized a letter by American and European experts and former officials urging Russia to end its conflict with Ukraine. Signatories of the letter, published on the Burisma-funded Atlantic Council’s website, include Taylor, Kramer and the Atlantic Council’s Herbst.
As late as this past March, Taylor was listed as one of nine members of the Friends of Ukraine Network Economic Security Task Force. Another member is Kramer.
When he deployed to Ukraine as Trump’s ambassador in June, the USUBC authored a piece in the Kyiv Post welcoming him.
In the USUBC piece welcoming Taylor to Ukraine, Kramer himself commented about Taylor’s ambassador position. “He’s a great choice for now,” Kramer gushed.
The USUBC’s piece noted that the “USUBC has worked closely with Ambassador Taylor for many years,” touting his role as the business group’s senior adviser.
On June 26, just nine days after arriving in Ukraine as ambassador, the USUBC already hosted Taylor for a roundtable discussion about his new position.
Vadym Pozharskyi, adviser to the board of directors at Burisma Holdings, was also previously hosted as a USUBC featured speaker.
Geysha Gonzalez is the sponsoring Atlantic Council officer listed on the Congressional disclosure form for the Schiff staffer’s trip to Ukraine in August. She is deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.
Gonzalez is also one of eleven members of the rapid response team for the Ukrainian Election Task Force, which says it is working to expose “foreign interference in Ukraine’s democracy.” Another member of the team is Kramer.
Kramer revealed in testimony that he held a meeting about the anti-Trump dossier with a reporter from BuzzFeed News, who he says snapped photos of the controversial document without Kramer’s permission when he left the room to go to the bathroom. That meeting was held at the McCain Institute office in Washington, Kramer stated.
BuzzFeed infamously published the Christopher Steele dossier on January 10, 2017, setting off a firestorm of news media coverage about the document.
The Washington Post reported last February that Kramer received the dossier directly from Fusion GPS after McCain expressed interest in it.
In a deposition taken on December 13, 2017, and posted online earlier this year, Kramer revealed that he met with two Obama administration officials to inquire about whether the anti-Trump dossier was being taken seriously.
In one case, Kramer said that he personally provided a copy of the dossier to Obama National Security Council official Celeste Wallander.
In the deposition, Kramer said that McCain specifically asked him in early December 2016 to meet about the dossier with Wallander and Victoria Nuland, a senior official in John Kerry’s State Department.
Taylor testimony and Burisma
In his testimony to the Democrats secretive impeachment inquiry, Taylor said that he “understood” from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland that a White House meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “was dependent on a public announcement of the investigations.” Taylor was referring to the announcement of an investigation that included Burisma, as well as alleged Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Taylor’s testimony was characterized by CNN as “explosive” and was similarly hyped by other news media outlets despite it not being unusual for the U.S. to condition aspects of relations on participation in ongoing American investigations involving the foreign country in question.
Still, Taylor conceded that there was no quid pro quo.
“Ambassador Sondland said that he had talked to President Zelensky and Mr. Yermak and told them that, although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelensky did not ‘clear things up’ in public, we could be at a ‘stalemate.’ I understood ‘stalemate to mean that Ukraine would not receive the much-needed military assistance,” Taylor testified.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.