Bill Taylor, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and the top diplomat for the United States there, is a career foreign service officer and Vietnam War veteran with experience in the Middle East. Specifically, he’s known now as the chargé d’affaires to Ukraine.
Taylor, who is married to a religious scholar, is Tipper Gore’s first cousin. You can read more about the latter link here. Taylor’s mother Nancy Aitcheson Taylor and Tipper’s father John Kenneth Aitcheson Jr. were siblings.
Taylor’s text message to Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the EU and a wealthy GOP donor and hotelier, is now the focal point of controversy over President Donald Trump and Ukraine. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor wrote to Sondland on September 9, 2019 at 12:47 a.m. You can see the full text exchanges released by the House here.
You can read Taylor’s statement to House lawmakers here. In it, he stated that there was an informal channel of communication with Ukraine that included President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. He claimed that Trump linked security assistance for Ukraine to the Ukrainian president’s willingness to publicly state that an investigation would be conducted into Joe Biden’s son Hunter and election interference.
Sondland responded to Taylor at 5:19:35 a.m. on September 9, 2019, writing, “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign I suggest we stop the back and forth by text If you still have concerns I recommend you give Lisa Kenna or S a call to discuss them directly. Thanks.” Sondland is now backing out of a closed-door House meeting; his lawyer says this was at the direction of the State Department.
Who is Bill Taylor? His full name is William B. Taylor Jr. (William Brockenbrough Taylor Jr.)
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Bill Taylor Served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine From 2006 to 2009
A State Department history defines Taylor as a “Career Foreign Service Officer” who lives in Virginia. The bio says that he served as “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (Ukraine)” from 2006 through May 23, 2009.
According to Interfax Ukraine, when Taylor’s term ended, then “Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko decorated him with the order of merit of the third degree.”
As chargé d’affaires, his role now is to “lead our team during this period of historic elections and transition,” according to a statement by the U.S. Embassy Kyiv. “Ambassador Taylor brings a wealth of diplomatic experience to our team during this important moment in U.S.-Ukraine relations.”
“I look forward to leading the U.S. Embassy team in building strong working relationships with President Zelenskyy and his team, other Ukrainian officials and political forces, and in maintaining our strong partnerships with civil society organizations and the Ukrainian people,” Ambassador Taylor said, according to the Embassy’s statement. “The United States remains deeply committed to the success of a stable, prosperous, democratic and free Ukraine, and we continue to stand in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
2. Bill Taylor Was Instrumental for the State Department During the ‘Arab Spring’
Taylor has held key posts in the Middle East.
“Most recently, he was the Executive Vice President of the U.S. Institute of Peace,” his Embassy bio says. “During the Arab Spring, he oversaw assistance and support to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria at the State Department.”
He spent time working for the U.S. government in Israel.
“He also served in Jerusalem as the U.S. Government’s representative to the Mideast Quartet, which facilitated the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank,” the biography stated.
Ukraine is now in a period of transition. The new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is a political newcomer who starred in a television comedy about a guy who accidentally becomes the president of Ukraine.
3. Taylor Is a Former Staffer for Senator Bill Bradley Who Oversaw Iraq’s Reconstruction for a Year
Taylor does have some political experience. He “served on the staff of Senator Bill Bradley,” according to his Embassy bio. Bradley is a Democrat.
No political donations match Taylor’s name and biography that anyone has found. In 2006, he disclosed that his wife had donated to a Democratic PAC and his father to Republicans. He said at that time that he had not made any political donations. Taylor has worked in the administrations of presidents from both sides of the political aisle. Taylor’s lawyer is a Republican who has criticized Donald Trump.
He also played important roles during both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “He oversaw reconstruction in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, and served in Kabul as coordinator of international and U.S. assistance to Afghanistan from 2002 to 2003. Ambassador Taylor also coordinated U.S. assistance to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe,” the bio reads.
Taylor has 24 videos of speeches in the C-Span library, which you can access here.
4. Taylor, Who Is Married to a Religious Scholar, Is a West Point Graduate Who Served in Vietnam & Germany
Bill Taylor has a military background.
“He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and served as an infantry platoon leader and combat company commander in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and Germany,” his bio reads.
He is married with two adult children, according to the biography. His wife’s name is Deborah, according to his father’s obit.
Deborah Taylor is a religious scholar. Deborah Furlan Taylor wrote a journal article for the Catholic Biblical Association called “The Monetary Crisis in Revelation 13:17 and the Provenance of the Book of Revelation.” She also wrote a book called “The Geographical and Adversarial Orientation of the Book of Revelation” that was published by the Catholic University of America.
5. Bill Taylor Is the Son of a Former NASA Manager on the Apollo Program
According to an obituary for Taylor’s dad in the Virginian Pilot, the elder William Brockenbrough Taylor died at age 86 in 2011.
“He was a U.S. Army veteran and was manager for the Army Corps of Engineers and NASA Apollo program. He was a founder of St. James’ Episcopal Church,” the obit says. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The actor Zach Cregger is Taylor’s nephew.
Nancy Aitcheson Taylor, Bill’s mother, was an artist who died in 2015.
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