The former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker on Thursday said he warned President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani not to trust the sources he was meeting with in Ukraine, according to the Washington Post.
Volker, the former U.S. Ambassador to NATO who currently serves as the executive director of the McCain Institute, told congressional investigators from three House committees he alerted Giuliani that Ukrainian sources were feeding him untrustworthy information about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. The Post’s report was based on two anonymous sources with apparent knowledge of the behind-closed-doors meeting.
According to the report, Volker told the panels that he and several other officials from the State Department advised the Ukrainian government to avoid any appearance of involvement in U.S. politics or it would be perceived as election interference.
Giuliani has said that the State Department requested his help in efforts to root out corruption in Ukraine instead of relying on federal investigators, because “the FBI’s performance since this entire investigation including up to this moment is flawed.”
During an appearance on Fox News last month, the former New York City mayor even took out his cell phone to share his texts with Volker.
Thursday’s testimony marked the first deposition since Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Democrats officially launched an impeachment inquiry focused on Trump soliciting interference from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the 2020 election.
Volker also reportedly revealed text messages showing that top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine Bill Taylor was under the impression Trump was intentionally withholding Congressionally-approved military assistance from Ukraine in order to compel their assistance in furthering his political goals, according to ABC News.
“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor wrote to a group of U.S. diplomats.
Those concerns were downplayed by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a hotel owner who donated more than $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee.
“Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensk’y promised during his campaign,” he responded.
Sondland then recommended that the group cease communicating via text, writing, “I suggest we top the back and forth by text.”
This was not the only story in Thursday’s edition of Giuliani-related news. Giuliani apparently had the pull to get Trump to remove Marie Yovanovitch from her post. Yovanovitch had, up to then, been serving as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Trump mentioned Yovanovitch (but not by name) on the July 25 phone call with Zelensky, the White House memo of the call showed.
“Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know about that,” Trump said.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Giuliani and others outside of the Trump Administration complained that Yovanovitch was undermining efforts to investigate the Bidens. By spring 2019, Yovanovitch’s removal became a priority for Trump, and it happened:
State Department officials were told this spring that Ms. Yovanovitch’s removal was a priority for the president, a person familiar with the matter said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supported the move, an administration official said. Ms. Yovanovitch was told by State Department officials that they couldn’t shield her from attacks by the president and his allies, according to people close to her.
In an interview, Mr. Giuliani told The Wall Street Journal that in the lead-up to Ms. Yovanovitch’s removal, he reminded the president of complaints percolating among Trump supporters that she had displayed an anti-Trump bias in private conversations. In Mr. Giuliani’s view, she also had been an obstacle to efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter.
[Image via SAUL LOEB_AFP_Getty Images]
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