The testimony of a key witness in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial is underneath new scrutiny by the Home Intelligence Committee following a report this week that undercuts the veracity of his declare that he was unaware of a Trump effort to strain Ukraine into mounting a meritless investigation of Joe Biden.
On Monday, CNN reported new particulars of a July 2019 name between Rudy Giuliani, then–US particular envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Andriy Yermak, a high aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Throughout that decision, Giuliani, then Trump’s private lawyer, aggressively pressed Ukraine to announce investigations into doubtful accusations about Biden and about alleged Ukrainian meddling within the 2016 election. Parts of this dialog have beforehand been reported by BuzzFeed Information and Time, however CNN revealed the complete audio of the 40-minute name. The recording of the dialog contradicts Volker’s sworn testimony to Congress that he by no means witnessed any try on the a part of Trump and Giuliani to muscle Ukraine into launching an investigation of Biden, Trump’s attainable opponent within the upcoming presidential election.
The discrepancy between Volker’s testimony and the recording of the decision has drawn the eye of Home Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who tells Mom Jones that Volker’s assertions to Congress amounted to “a disingenuous revision of historical past.”
A former aide to the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who was appointed ambassador to NATO by George W. Bush, Volker is a overseas coverage institution determine who retains posts at a distinguished DC lobbying agency and a suppose tank. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson picked Volker as a particular consultant to Ukraine in 2017, a nominally part-time job that overlapped with the duties of then-US Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch, who Trump later fired.
Volker turned a key determine within the Trump administration’s 2019 effort, spearheaded by Giuliani, to push Ukraine to research alleged corruption regarding Burisma, a Ukrainian power firm the place Hunter Biden had as soon as served as a board member. Giuliani significantly wished Ukrainian prosecutors to announce a probe into flimsy allegations that Biden as vice chairman had pressured the firing of a high Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, to derail a supposed investigation into Burisma. This strain marketing campaign culminated within the White Home holding up virtually $400 million in navy aide for Ukraine and led to Trump’s first impeachment in December 2019.
Volker claimed in sworn testimony throughout Trump’s impeachment proceedings that, whilst he helped push Ukraine to look into Burisma and corruption, he didn’t know that these matters associated to Joe Biden—and, consequently, he was unaware that he was aiding within the Giuliani-Trump effort to smear a political rival.
“Vice President Biden was by no means a subject of debate,” Volker mentioned in an October 3, 2019 deposition earlier than the Home Intelligence Committee. He repeated that declare in televised testimony earlier than the committee the next month: “At no time was I conscious of or knowingly took half in an effort to induce Ukraine to research former Vice President Biden. As you already know from the intensive real-time documentation I’ve supplied, Vice President Biden was not a subject of our discussions.”
CNN’s report on that July 2019 cellphone name exhibits that Volker’s account was not true. Giuliani repeatedly urged an investigation concentrating on Biden throughout that dialog, which Volker was a part of. And Giuliani mentioned that saying such a probe would assist Zelensky enhance relations with Trump.
“All we’d like from the President [Zelensky] is to say, I’m gonna put an trustworthy prosecutor in cost, he’s gonna examine and dig up the proof, that presently exists and is there another proof about involvement of the 2016 election, after which the Biden factor needs to be run out,” Giuliani mentioned at one level. “Anyone in Ukraine’s gotta take that severely.”
Giuliani additionally advised Yermak that he was longing for Ukraine to look into an allegation that Shokin “was fired as a result of Vice President Biden threatened [former Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko with not getting a [US] mortgage assure that was crucial on the time.”
In his October 3 deposition, Volker acknowledged arranging and collaborating on this name with Giuliani and Yermak, however he insisted it was “simply an introductory” dialog. “It was actually, you already know, ‘let me introduce, you already know, Mr. Giuliani; let me introduce Mr. Yermak. I wished to place you in contact.’” Volker mentioned. “Blah, blah, blah.” In actual fact, the prolonged name—which reportedly shocked Ukrainian officers—included an intensive dialogue of what Giuliani and Trump hoped to get out of Ukraine.
Volker’s deceptive testimony mattered. Republicans together with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who argued efficiently in opposition to the Senate convicting Trump, cited the previous diplomat’s claims to defend Trump. “Volker, the particular envoy, mentioned there was no quid professional quo,” Graham advised reporters in November 2019, including: “I discover the entire course of to be a sham and I’m not going to legitimize it.”
In a press release to Mom Jones, Schiff, who acted as lead Home Supervisor throughout Trump’s first Senate impeachment trial, argues that the knowledge that Volker didn’t disclose—Giuliani overtly pressured Yermak for a so-called quid professional quo on the July 19 name—is extra proof that Trump ought to have been faraway from workplace.
“Throughout his deposition, Ambassador Volker recommended that he didn’t see a connection between requests for an investigation into Burisma and one into the Bidens, besides looking back,” Schiff says. “These tapes reveal that to be a disingenuous revision of historical past. At trial, we warned that extra of the reality would come out over time—and it has—validating the necessity for President Trump’s elimination and tarnishing the reputations of those that knowingly participated in his scheming.”
Virtually as quickly as Volker’s deposition turned public, questions on its accuracy arose. Simply Safety wrote in November 2019 that “it seems that Mr. Volker lied to Congress in violation of federal prison legislation” throughout his October deposition. However the brand new reporting on the July 19 name gives stronger proof that Volker made false claims in his October deposition and November public testimony.
Volker declined to deal with questions on his sworn statements. “I’ve nothing so as to add to what was already lined in my public testimony,” he mentioned in an electronic mail Tuesday.
Schiff didn’t reply to a query about whether or not the intelligence committee will ask the Justice Division to contemplate charging Volker with perjury. However a committee staffer mentioned the panel “will regularly overview new data that involves mild associated to the Ukraine investigation to find out the suitable response, together with whether or not witnesses had been truthful.”
Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine are the topic of a prison investigation. FBI brokers searched the previous New York mayor’s Manhattan residence and workplace in April, seizing numerous digital units. In an interview final week, Giuliani advised Mom Jones that brokers advised him they believe him of “one act of failing to register as a overseas agent” associated to his interactions with Yuriy Lutsenko, a former Ukrainian prosecutor who issued and later rescinded allegations about Biden that Giuliani and Trump pushed Zelensky to research. Giuliani mentioned he didn’t signify Lutsenko and known as the investigation into his actions “fully dishonest, fully corrupt.”
Amid the Ukraine scandal, Volker in 2019 resigned his diplomatic publish and in addition stepped down as govt director of the McCain Institute at Arizona State College. However he stays a senior worldwide adviser and advisory board member at lobbying agency BGR Group, a job Volker held even whereas serving as a diplomat, and he’s at the moment a distinguished fellow on the Middle for European Coverage Evaluation, a suppose tank. These organizations didn’t reply to requests for remark.