If you want to know what’s going down in US politics…ask the Russians!?
Fri, 04 Oct 2019 00:00 UTC
Another transcript has poked a hole in the narrative of House Democrats trying to impeach President Donald Trump, as former US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker testified he never pushed Kiev for ‘dirt’ on former VP Joe Biden.
Volker was grilled for nine hours in a closed-doors session of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight committees on Thursday. Democrats on the committees claimed that he was instrumental in pushing the Ukrainian government to reopen a corruption investigation into Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine.
House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff (D-California) – one of the loudest voices calling for impeachment on Capitol Hill – did not release a transcript of Volker’s testimony.
Instead, the Democrats published a select few text messages provided by Volker, amid grim pronouncements that the envoy engaged in a “shadow shakedown,” and helped Trump pressure “a foreign power to investigate a political rival,” to quote Schiff and fellow Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California).
However, a transcript of Volker’s testimony was obtained by investigative reporter John Solomon and the The Federalist on Friday, and the document paints a rather different picture. In the transcript, Volker describes providing more text messages than those released by Schiff and co, in which “Vice President Biden was never a topic of discussion.”
Another Democrat claim – that Trump ordered military aid to Ukraine withheld in exchange for an investigation into the Bidens’ affairs – was also absent from Volker’s testimony, with the envoy stating that he was only made aware of the suspension of military aid through media reports.
Instead, he described facilitating talks between officials in Kiev and Washington to allow the Ukrainians a shot at refuting a “negative narrative” that had formed in the US on corruption in the country. Volker told the hearing:
“I did so solely because I understood that the new Ukrainian leadership wanted to convince those…who believed such a negative narrative about Ukraine, that times have changed, and that, under President Zelensky, Ukraine is worthy of US support.”
Volker abruptly resigned last week, after the Democrats announced they would be summoning him to testify.
Prior to the transcript’s release, House Republicans had called for it to be made public, and accused Schiff and his fellow Democrats of “releasing cherry-picked documents” to further his impeachment effort.
President Trump was more blunt, calling Schiff a “lowlife” and demanding he be “questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason.”
The transcript is the second such document to cast doubt on the argument for impeachment. Democrats accused Trump of pressuring Zelensky into reopening the investigation in a July phone call, using military aid as leverage. When the White House released a transcript of the call revealing no quid-pro-quo arrangement, that argument too began to look shaky.
Nevertheless, the party has pushed ahead with an impeachment inquiry, albeit without a full vote in the House of Representatives to make it official. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s top prosecutor announced on Friday that his office will reopen the investigation into Burisma, an energy firm whose board Hunter Biden sat on, but denied that the investigation was politically motivated.