Oy! The Biggest Shifts In Kurt Volker’s Ukraine Testimony

US Ambassador to NATO and US special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker waves as he arrives prior to a press-conference in Kiev on July 27, 2019 following his visit in Ukraine. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Pho... US Ambassador to NATO and US special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker waves as he arrives prior to a press-conference in Kiev on July 27, 2019 following his visit in Ukraine. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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November 19, 2019 4:56 p.m.
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Former Special Envoy for the Ukraine Crisis Kurt Volker updated his testimony for public consumption on Tuesday, making key changes to his recollection of his involvement at the center of President Trump’s and Rudy Giuliani’s pressure campaign on Ukraine.

The shifts focus on the extent to which Volker understood that demands for “investigations” were necessarily political. The longtime diplomat updated his testimony to state that he remembered the topic of “investigations” being raised at key points, but to emphasize that, at the time, he found the demands innocuous.

Volker addressed the discrepancies by suggesting that he had been enriched by new, previously unexplored “perspectives.”

“Since these events, and since I gave my testimony on October 3, a great deal of additional information and perspectives have come to light,” Volker wrote. “I have learned many things that I did not know at the time of the events in question.”

Below is a list of major shifts in Volker’s testimony:

  • Volker originally testified that during a July 10 meeting with Ukrainian officials at the White House, the subject of “investigations” was not raised. But now, according to his public opening statement, Volker has come to remember that U.S Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland raised the topic. Volker has also remembered that “all of us” at the meeting found Sondland’s behavior to be “inappropriate,” while saying that he, personally, saw it as “generic.”
  • Volker testified both in October and on Tuesday that he was unaware that then-NSC John Bolton had expressed “strong concerns” about the demand for Ukraine to initiate politically beneficial “investigations.” Bolton was present at the July 10 meeting, and purportedly shut it down after Sondland raised the issue. But in his Tuesday update, Volker raised the possibility that he “may have been engaged in a side conversation, or had already left the complex” when further “investigations” were raised.
  • In his Oct. 3 testimony, Volker treated demands to investigate the Bidens and demands to investigate Burisma as two separate things. But on Tuesday, he said that while he recalled that Giuliani and others were demanding investigations into the gas company Burisma, on whose board Hunter Biden sat, Volker failed to connect an investigation into corruption allegations at Burisma with a politically motivated attack on the Bidens. “At no time was I aware of or knowingly took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden,” Volker said.
  • Volker also updated his testimony to suggest that he was farther out of the decision-making process than he previously said. Apart from saying that he┬ánever understood that Trump and Giuliani’s desire to investigate Burisma as a way of hitting out at the Bidens, he testified on Tuesday that he had no knowledge of any “linkage” between a hold on security assistance and the investigations.” Volker updated his testimony on Tuesday to specify that he was unaware that other officials were telling Ukrainians that security assistance was conditioned on Kyiv announcing politically helpful investigations.
  • Finally, and this is less of a factual difference than a point of personal nausea, Volker denied on Tuesday using the term “three amigos” to refer to himself, Sondland, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. He testified in October that Sondland had used the phrase. On Tuesday, Volker said he declines to say “three amigos” because that phrase “will always refer to Senator John McCain, Senator Joseph Lieberman, and Senator Lindsey Graham, in reference to their work to support the surge in Iraq.”
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