Trump impeachment crisis deepens as US envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker resigns after whistleblower names him – Washington Examiner
An American diplomat at the center of the U.S.-Ukraine controversy has resigned — a potentially significant blow for President Trump as he faces impeachment proceedings in the Democratic-led House of Representatives.
Kurt Volker met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday and announced he would be resigning from his post as U.S. special envoy for Ukraine, according to Arizona State University’s State Press. A former career diplomat and one-time CIA analyst, Volker, 54, rose to prominence during the George W. Bush administration — rising to U.S. ambassador to NATO, and joined the private sector after the election of President Barack Obama.
The State Department did not immediately return the Washington Examiner’s request for comment. Volker is also the director of the McCain Institute, a D.C.-based think tank that has a partnership with ASU. He was a Senate aide to John McCain from 1997 to 1998 while on secondment from the State Department.
A call to Volker was not immediately returned.
Volker took on the unpaid, part-time role as U.S. special representative to Ukraine in July 2017 and was named in an intelligence community whistleblower complaint.
Volker’s resignation comes just hours after House Democrats, who engaged in a formal impeachment inquiry this week, announced he was one target for depositions as they seek information related to allegations that Trump set up a quid pro quo deal with the president of Ukraine to investigate Biden by leveraging millions of dollars in military aid. Volker’s deposition was scheduled for Oct. 3. Pompeo has also been subpoenaed over Trump’s call.
During a congressional hearing in May, Volker, whose position was tailored to helping Ukraine counter Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country, spoke of the importance of sending $250 million in military equipment to Ukraine.
“I think the provision of security assistance to Ukraine is vitally important. I think it has had an impact both psychologically as well as militarily on the professionalization and the capacity of the Ukrainian forces,” Volker told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I think it’s also important that Ukraine reciprocate with foreign military purchases from us as well, and I know that they intend to do so.”
That aid package and another tranche of $141 million were approved by Congress but held by the Trump administration until earlier this month.
Volker was named in an Aug. 12 intelligence community whistleblower complaint as one of the State Department officials who spoke to Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani as he communicated with Ukrainian officials about investigating matters related to the 2016 election and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Notes on a July 25 phone call, released Wednesday morning, show Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to speak with Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr about investigating the matter related to Joe Biden, who is now the leading Democratic candidate for president.
The whistleblower’s sources alleged that State Department officials, including Volker and U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, spoke with Giuliani “in an attempt to ‘contain the damage’ to U.S. national security.”
The whistleblower said those ambassadors “met with members of the new Ukrainian administration and, in addition to discussing policy matters, sought to help Ukrainian leaders understand and respond to the differing messages they were receiving from official U.S. channel on the one hand, and from Mr. Giuliani on the other.”
During a trip by Volker and Sondland to Ukraine the day after the July 25 call, the whistleblower said the ambassadors tried to advise Ukrainian leadership “about how to ‘navigate’ the demands” Trump made of Zelensky.
Since the release of the call and the complaint, the State Department has tried to distance itself from Giuliani, but he claims the State Department gave him the green light to carry out his mission in Ukraine, and on Thursday night he claimed to have over a dozen text messages from Volker and Sondland showing they asked for his help in Ukraine and that he was briefing them on what he was doing.
Giuliani has adamantly denied his outreach has anything to do with digging up “political dirt” on Trump’s potential political rival. The former New York City mayor tweeted out a screenshot of what he claimed to be a text message exchange he had with Volker about coordinating with Ukrainian officials.
The transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call showed Trump asked for Ukraine’s help in investigating a conspiracy theory related to the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which determined the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee’s email systems.
Trump also urged the Ukrainian leader to look into whether there was any Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election and suggested that the Ukrainians investigate allegations of corruption related to 2020 Democrat Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Trump urged Zelensky to speak with his Giuliani and Barr about this, and DOJ denies Barr has spoken with anyone in Ukraine. Giuliani has spent months urging Ukraine to investigate possible Ukrainian election interference and the Bidens.
“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,” the whistleblower wrote. “The interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals. The President’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort.”
The whistleblower admitted in the complaint that they were “not a direct witness to most of the events described” but said they had spoken with numerous White House officials with knowledge.
“Starting in mid-May, I heard from multiple U.S. officials that they were deeply concerned by what they viewed as Mr. Giuliani’s circumvention of national security decision making processes to engage with Ukrainian officials and relay messages back and forth between Kyiv and the President,” wrote the whistleblower.
Giuliani said Thursday that these allegations were “total nonsense.”