A 10-hour interview by House investigators with the former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker on Thursday, Oct. 3, offered more insights into an alleged quid-pro-quo that Democrats accused President Trump of leveraging in exchange for political gain.
Volker, who stepped down as special envoy to Ukraine amid the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, said in a text message on the morning of the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukraine President Zelenskiy, he wrote, “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.”
“Phone call went well,” wrote Andrey Yermak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, in a text to Volker later that day, after the two presidents spoke. Yermark suggested several dates when President Trump and President Zerenskiy could meet in September.
“Once we have a date, we will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US-UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations,” Yermak wrote two weeks later.
“Sounds great!” texted Volker.
President Trump then put a hold on military assistance to the country, which was depending on the funds as part of its defense against Russian separatists.
Two other diplomats, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, discussed the White House’s decision to cancel the meeting with Zelenskiy in Poland.
“As I said over the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor wrote.
“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions,” Sondland wrote back. “The president has been crystal clear: no quid pro quos of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelenskiy promised during his campaign.”
President Trump insisted he never pressured Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens, and any request was based on making sure the country kept its promise to fight corruption.
“As the President of the United States, I have an absolute right, perhaps even a duty, to investigate, or have investigated, CORRUPTION, and that would include asking, or suggesting, other Countries to help us out!” the president tweeted..
Zelensky has also said he never felt pressured by President Trump.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio.) said Thursday’s interview with Volker “undercut” the Democratic narrative that the president pressured foreign leaders to investigate his political rival and interfere with an election.
“The facts we learned today undercut the salacious narrative that Adam Schiff is using to sell his impeachment ambitions. We hope that American people get to read the transcript of today’s testimony and see the truth,” he wrote in a tweet.
Great job, Jim!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Oct. 4, 2019
Includes reporting from the Associated Press.