Volker rejects Trump ‘conspiracy theories’
Washington – Sought by Republicans to testify, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine spoke up instead for Democrat Joe Biden in Tuesday’s impeachment hearings, rejecting “conspiracy theories” embraced by President Donald Trump and some of his allies.
Kurt Volker said he has known Biden as an honorable man for more than two decades, rebuffing debunked corruption allegations that Trump is said to have wanted the Ukrainians to investigate in exchange for military aid to hold off Russian aggression.
“The allegations against Vice President Biden are self-serving and non-credible,” Volker declared.
Broader corruption in Ukraine was “plausible,” but corruption by Biden wasn’t, he said.
Volker testified alongside former White House national security official Tim Morrison in the second hearing of the day in the House’s impeachment inquiry, only the fourth in history against a U.S. president.
Morrison, also requested by GOP members on the House Intelligence Committee, said at the outset that he was not there to question the “character or integrity” of any of his colleagues, though earlier Tuesday Republican lawmakers used his prior comments to try to discredit another witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. The White House even circulated a tweet that was an earlier quote by Morrison questioning Vindman’s judgment.
Democrats say there may be grounds for impeachment in Trump’s push for Ukraine’s new leadership to investigate his Democratic rival and the 2016 U.S. election as he withheld military assistance approved by Congress.
Volker was the first person to come behind closed doors in the inquiry that started in September, resigning his position shortly before he did so.
Since then, a parade of witnesses has testified publicly and privately about what they recalled about the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s new leader, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Many of those statements cast doubt on Volker’s account that he didn’t know the Ukraine gas company Burisma was tied to Biden, and that he wasn’t aware of a possible quid pro quo offered by Trump.
A number of White House and State Department officials were listening to the call, but Volker was not.
On Tuesday, he said he opposed any hold on security assistance. And he said, “I did not understand that others believed that any investigation of the Ukrainian company, Burisma, which had a history of accusations of corruption, was tantamount to investigating Vice President Biden. I drew a distinction between the two.”