Congressional testimony from the former top American envoy to Ukraine directly contradicts the impeachment narrative offered by congressional Democrats and their media allies. Ambassador Kurt Volker, who served for two years as the top U.S. diplomatic envoy to Ukraine, testified on Thursday that he was never aware of and never took part in any effort to push the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter. He also stressed that the interactions between Giuliani and Ukrainian officials were facilitated not to find dirt on Biden, but to assuage concerns that the incoming Ukrainian government would not be able to get a handle on corruption within the country.
Volker’s full remarks, which were obtained by The Federalist, can be read here.
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“[I]n May of this year, I became concerned that a negative narrative about Ukraine, fueled by assertions made by Ukraine’s departing Prosecutor General, was reaching the President of the United States, and impeding our ability to support the new Ukrainian government as robustly as I believed we should,” Volker said. “After sharing my concerns with the Ukrainian leadership, an advisor to President Zelensky asked me to connect him to the President’s personal lawyer, Mayor Rudy Giuliani.”
“I did so solely because I understood that the new Ukrainian leadership wanted to convince those, like Mayor Giuliani, who believed such a negative narrative about Ukraine, that times have changed and that, under President Zelensky, Ukraine is worthy of U.S. support,” Volker said. “I also made clear to the Ukrainians, on a number of occasions, that Mayor Giuliani is a private citizen and the President’s personal lawyer, and that he does not represent the United States government.”
Volker vehemently denied that he ever urged the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on the Biden family.
“As you will see from the extensive text messages I am providing, which convey a sense of real-time dialogue with several different actors, Vice President Biden was never a topic of discussion,” he said.
Volker testified that he never even mentioned a delay on U.S. military assistance to Ukrainian officials until late August, when news reports indicated that funding had been put on hold. Volker’s statement directly undercuts claims that the funding was part of a quid pro quo meant to force the Ukrainians to take certain actions in order for the military aids to be released.
“I became aware of a hold on Congressional Notifications about proceeding with that assistance on July 18, 2019, and immediately tried to weigh in to reverse that position,” Volker testified. “I was confident that this position would indeed be reversed in the end, because the provision of such assistance was uniformly supported at State, Defense, NSC, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the expert community in Washington.”
“As I was confident the position would not stand, I did not discuss the hold with my Ukrainian counterparts until the matter became public in late August,” he said.
Volker explained in his remarks that Trump had a dim view of the Ukrainian government given its involvement in 2016 efforts to damage Trump’s presidential campaign, and that the president’s view of rampant and widespread corruption in the country was a significant barrier to cooperation between the two nations going forward. According to Volker, the interactions between Giuliani and Ukraine were sought in an effort to persuade Trump that Zelensky’s government could be a trusted U.S. partner.
“It was clear to me that we had a growing problem in the negative narrative about Ukraine, built on these earlier accusations by Mr. Lutsenko, that was impeding the development of our bilateral relationship and the strengthening of our support for Ukraine,” Volker said. “I therefore faced a choice: do nothing, and allow this situation to fester; or try to fix it.”
“I tried to fix it,” he testified.
Volker said Giuliani eventually came to believe that the Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, was not credible.
“To my surprise, Mr. Giuliani had already come to the conclusion on his own that Mr. Lutsenko was not credible and acting in a self-serving capacity,” Volker said. “He mentioned both the accusations about Vice President Biden and about interference in the 2016 election, and stressed that all he wanted to see was for Ukraine to investigate what happened in the past and apply its own laws.”
While Volker said he did not believe any of the accusations of corruption levied against Biden, he felt that allegations of Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections were “plausible.” Contrary to Democratic assertions that Trump’s diplomatic team was actively demanding that Ukraine interfere in the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, Volker said his team did the opposite.
“The point about Ukraine avoiding anything that could play into U.S. elections in 2020 is a message that I know our Chargé in Ukraine, Amb. Bill Taylor, reinforced in other meetings,” Volker said.
The diplomat also said he didn’t even know the Biden family had been referenced at all in Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky.
“I was not on the July 25 phone call,” Volker said. “I received a general readout via our Chargé and my own State Department staffer, as well as from Mr. Yermak.”
“All said it was a good, congratulatory call, that they discussed the importance of fighting corruption and promoting reform in Ukraine, and that President Trump reiterated his invitation to President Zelensky to visit the White House,” he testified. “I was not made aware of any reference to Vice President Biden or his son, which I only learned about when the transcript of the call was released on September 25, 2019.”
The full statement from Volker can be read in its entirety here.
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