William Taylor’s impeachment testimony shows the problem with Washington’s permanent bureaucracy


Former Ukraine Ambassador William Taylor is scheduled to testify in the first televised impeachment hearing this week, and we’re being told over and over again that he’s super credible because he’s a nonpartisan career diplomat.

That is, however, precisely what makes him such a terrible witness.

CNN’s Dana Bash on Monday described Taylor as “a credible witness because he is a longtime foreign service officer” who “has the respect and confidence of people in both parties.” She noted that he has also “worked for presidents in both parties since Ronald Reagan.”

Taylor’s bipartisan resume might matter if the Democrats’ ridiculous impeachment effort was centered on say, an actual crime. But it’s not. It’s based on President Trump having done something the permanent Washington bureaucracy doesn’t like.

Taylor didn’t like that Trump put a hold on aid for Ukraine until he could ask that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigate his country’s interference in the 2016 election and investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

You can debate whether it was appropriate for Trump to make that request, but that’s a political question. We have a process for resolving political questions, and it’s called an election.

That Taylor has worked for both Republicans and Democrats doesn’t mean his opinion is beyond reproach. It means he’s part of the very class of career government employees tasked with ensuring that Washington never changes.

Shocking as it still is to people like Taylor, voters didn’t elect a reality TV game show host because they wanted things to remain the same for another four years.

Taylor’s written testimony was published last month, so we pretty much know everything he’ll say this week. He was, first, nearly in tears about making sure that Ukraine got millions in aid with no strings attached. Second, he strongly disagreed with the White House about what exactly the Ukraine-U.S. relationship should be.

Taylor is entitled, just like everyone else, to have a difference of opinion. But that he’s worked for presidents of both parties doesn’t make his opinion any more important.

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