Former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker told Congress on Thursday that he did not see a link between pressure on Ukraine to launch investigations into the 2016 election or former Vice President Joe Biden and the withholding of military aid.
Volker, who resigned from the State Department last week, used his testimony in front of Congress to explain his role in the whistleblower complaint that claims President Donald Trump leveraged military aid in order to get Ukraine to investigate a political opponent.
Volker noted in his opening remarks that he was not on the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but that he was aware that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani had been meeting with Ukrainian officials to discuss anti-corruption efforts, according to a copy of his testimony obtained by the Daily Caller. Biden was never brought up in those meetings, to Volker’s knowledge.
Around the same time that Giuliani was meeting with Andrey Yermak, an adviser to Zelensky, Trump decided to put a freeze on $440 million in military aid to Ukraine.
“The issue of a hold placed on security assistance to Ukraine also came up during this same time I was connecting Mr. Yermak and Mayor Giuliani,” Volker stated. “I did not perceive these issues to be linked in any way.”
Volker also said that he was not concerned about the freeze on aid, because he knew it would eventually be cleared, due to its overwhelming support among the State Department and other administration officials.
The testimony seems to slightly conflict with text messages released by House Democrats on Thursday night that show Volker and other ambassadors discussing dangling a White House visit and/or military aid to Ukraine in exchange for launching investigations on behalf of Trump. (RELATED: US Ambassador To The EU Argues Trump Was Clear On His ‘Intentions’: No ‘Quid Pro Quo’s Of Any Kind’)
“Heard from White House — assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Volker wrote to Zelensky’s adviser in one text.
In another, Bill Taylor, a top diplomat to Ukraine wrote, “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meetings are conditioned on investigations?”
Later, Taylor cautioned again, “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, pushed back on that characterization, writing, “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s [sic] 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.”
Volker also stated during his testimony that Biden was never discussed in the text messages.