Former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker repeatedly denied that quid pro quo took place during the July 25 call between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, transcripts released on Tuesday show.
“I don’t think” Ukraine was “aware” that U.S. aid was being withheld “at the time” of the call, “so there was no leverage implied,” he added.
Volker testified that he believed that Ukraine did not become aware of the hold on U.S. aid until Politico published a story on the matter, based on leaked information, on August 28, more than a month after the July 25 call.
House Democrat impeachment investigators are trying to determine if Trump abused his power by allegedly pressuring Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, and claims of tampering in the 2016 elections during the July 25 call.
Trump, Zelensky, Volker, and other impeachment probe witnesses have denied those claims.
House investigators asked Volker, “Did President Trump ever withhold a meeting with President Zelensky or delay a meeting with President Zelensky until the Ukrainians committed to investigate the allegations that you just described concerning the  presidential election?”
“The answer to the question is no …. there was no linkage like that,” Volker said.
We asked Amb. Volker, Special Envoy to Ukraine, “Did @POTUS ever withhold a meeting with President Zelensky… until the Ukrainians committed to investigate the allegations… concerning the 2016 election?”
Volker: “The answer to the question is no… there was no linkage.” pic.twitter.com/3i9prqdHwu
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) November 5, 2019
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) explicitly asked Volker, “And in no way, shape, or form in either the readouts from the United States or Ukraine did you receive any indication whatsoever for anything that resembles a quid pro quo?”
“Correct,” he replied.
I asked Volker: And in no way, shape, or form in either the readouts from the United States or Ukraine did you receive any indication whatsoever for anything that resembles a quid pro quo?
Volker: Correct pic.twitter.com/vdmJnSWPyo
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) November 5, 2019
Volker’s denial irked Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the leader of the impeachment probe, who repeatedly pressured the former envoy to confirm his characterization of events suggesting a quid pro quo took place.
Ambassador, I find it remarkable as a career diplomat that you have difficulty acknowledging that when Ukraine learned that their aid had been suspended for unknown reasons, that this wouldn’t add additional urgency to [an investigation] request by the President of the United States. I find that remarkable.
Following weeks of Republican pressure, House Democrats pursuing the impeachment inquiry released the transcript of the Volker’s October 3 deposition.
Republicans have argued that Volker’s testimony exonerates Trump of the allegations that triggered the impeachment probe.