Kurt Volker, the former special U.S. envoy for Ukraine, was the first witness Republicans called to testify in the impeachment inquiry. It did not go as expected. Vox writes, “in his opening statement Tuesday, Volker made a number of points that seemed quite bad for the case President Donald Trump’s defenders are trying to build.” Volker contradicted some of the testimony he gave behind closed doors last month saying “I have learned many things that I did not know at the time of the events in question.”
Volker now says he was in the dark for many of the crucial moments that would have pointed toward a more nefarious purpose of the Ukraine maneuverings. He said that when he helped facilitate contact between Giuliani and a senior Ukrainian official, he was not aware that anyone considered a “linkage” between U.S. military aid and the investigations Trump sought.
“I opposed the hold on U.S. security assistance as soon as I learned about it on July 18, and thought we could turn it around before it the Ukrainians ever knew or became alarmed about it,” Volker testified on Tuesday.
Big change from Volker's first testimony to his opening statement today.
Left: he says "no" when asked categorically whether investigations were brought up in July 10 meeting
Right: He says Sondland did bring up investigations, and he found it "inappropriate" pic.twitter.com/VNeV93wNPI
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) November 19, 2019
He also shot down the notion that Joe Biden acted corruptly in dealing with Ukraine saying:
“I have known former Vice President Biden for a long time and I know how he respects his duties of higher office. It’s just not credible to me that a vice president of the United States is going to do anything other than act as how he sees best for the national interest.”
“It is not credible to me that former Vice President Biden would have been influenced in any way by financial or personal motives in carrying out his duties as Vice President.”
Ambassador Volker—a GOP-requested witness—just testified:
➡️Allegations against Vice President Biden are not credible.
➡️He now recognizes that the investigations sought by the president were not because of legitimate concerns about corruption, but were for political purposes. pic.twitter.com/tMNMV9GXmB
— House Intelligence Committee (@HouseIntel) November 19, 2019
The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin writes:
Volker’s change of heart likely previews (Gordan) Sondland’s testimony tomorrow, during which he will be able to confirm direct contact with Trump. In sum, Republicans have egg on their face, raising the legitimate question as to whether they have the slightest idea what they are doing.
Watch Volker’s full opening statement above.