US Ukraine envoy who testified on Trump to leave

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The acting United States (US) Ambassador to Ukraine, whose appearance to Congress built the Democrats’ case for impeaching US President Donald Trump, will step down at the end of the year, officials said.

William Taylor, a veteran diplomat, was sent to Kiev in June after the Trump administration controversially pulled out the US ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch.

Taylor’s tenure will finish with the end of the year under terms of the Vacancies Act, in which appointees in acting position without Senate confirmation can serve 200 days, an official said.

Senator Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voiced alarm that Taylor’s absence would leave a vacuum as Ukraine faces Russian-backed separatists.

Menendez also voiced concern that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wanted Taylor out before the top US diplomat reportedly plans a visit to Ukraine in the new year.

“Your joint appearances with the ambassador in Kiev would also send a strong message of solidarity to our professional diplomatic service at a time when morale is historically low,” Menendez said in a letter to Pompeo. Taylor, who is the charge d’affaires at the Kiev embassy, was summoned to speak last month before a House committee looking into allegations that Trump held up nearly USD400 million in aid to Ukraine.

Top US diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor. PHOTO: AFP