Quigley Questions Volker During Impeachment Hearing
Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) questioned Ambassador Kurt Volker, Former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine, during a House impeachment hearing. Under Quigley’s questioning, Volker, who was called as a witness by Republicans, testified that when he pressed Ukrainian President Zelensky’s aides not to prosecute their political opponents, Zelensky’s aide replied, "What, you mean like asking us to investigate Clinton and Biden?"
Tomorrow, during a 9 am ET hearing, Quigley will question Ambassador Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union. A livestream of that hearing will be available here. Later in the day, during a 2:30 pm ET hearing, Quigley will question Laura Cooper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs, and GOP-requested witness, David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Department of State. A livestream of that hearing will be available here.
Earlier today, Quigley questioned Jennifer Williams and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman about on the President’s decision to withhold military assistance from Ukraine. Last week, Quigley questioned Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch, Former Ambassador to Kyiv, Ukraine, about the impact of President Trump’s recalling on her career.
Video of Quigley’s questioning of Volker is available here. A transcript is provided below.
QUIGLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ambassador, I want to direct your attention to a meeting you had with Ambassador Taylor and Mr. Yermak, September 14th in Kyiv. Do you recall this meeting, sir?
VOLKER: I believe we had dinner. It was around the time of the S Conference.
QUIGLEY: Okay. And do you remember discussing with Mr. Yermak, Ukraine's intent to investigate heir former President, Mr. Poroshenko?
VOLKER: I remember raising the issue of the possibility of prosecutions.
QUIGLEY: Well, they brought it up, is that correct? You raised it and they talked about their intentions.
VOLKER: Excuse me, Congressman, I'm sorry. To be clear, there was a lot of talk in Kyiv at that time about whether the new team would be prosecuting the former President. And I had met with President Poroshenko, I had met with others in the opposition as well. And I wanted to call Mr. Yermak's attention to the potential problems with this. I am very familiar with other examples of countries in the region that have gone for prosecutions of the former government and these have created deep divisions in society. And so I cited President Zelensky's inauguration speech, I'm sorry, his National Day speech from August 24th that was all about unifying the country. And I cautioned Mr. Yermak to say that pursuing prosecution of President Poroshenko risks deepening the divisions in the country, exactly the opposite of what President Zelensky has said he wants to do.
QUIGLEY: So it's fair to describe it as you discouraged him from such action?
VOLKER: Yeah, I discouraged him. I raised concerns about what the potential impact would be.
QUIGLEY: And what was Mr. Yermak's response?
VOLKER: I believe, and I am refreshed in this by seeing the testimony of others-
QUIGLEY: Mr. Taylor-
VOLKER: Mr. Taylor's testimony.
QUIGLEY: Ambassador Taylor and Mr. Kent?
VOLKER: Right. And I believe based on that testimony that Mr. Yermak said, "What, you mean like asking us to investigate Clinton and Biden?"
QUIGLEY: So, it was something along the lines of "It's okay for you to ask us to investigate in the manner in which you are-these so-called investigations-but you don't want us to investigate our own President." Is that a fair way to describe this?
VOLKER: Well, I didn't quite understand what he was referring to because to my knowledge we weren't asking to investigate Clinton or Biden and so I was kind of puzzled by the remark and that's why I didn't respond.
QUIGLEY: Did you go and investigate what he might have meant or ask anybody?
VOLKER: No, I thought it- I took it something of a deflection from the point I was making
about unifying Ukraine.
QUIGLEY: But in all this time, I mean. Mr. Giuliani in this time, in that May to September, he- he mentioned the Biden investigation. He mentioned Biden over fifty times, and twenty-something times in relation to Ukraine. None of that stirred your curiosity?
VOLKER: Well, as-
QUIGLEY: You've just now finally come to this point?
VOLKER: Yeah. As I testified, I met with Mr. Giuliani once and he did bring up Vice President Biden and I pushed back on that and I maintained a very clear distinction that Ukraine investigating its own citizens and corruption would be fine. Going beyond that to say we're going to investigate the Vice President, is not fine.
QUIGLEY: Did you have any discussions with anyone in the state department or anywhere else in the administration about concerns about the investigation into Poroshenko?
VOLKER: Yes. So, I know that I raised this with Ambassador Taylor. In advance of that, we had been in some of the same meetings, some of the country team there. I don't remember whether I raised it with George Kent or Phil Reeker or not, I may well have done, but it was something that we had discussed as part of our meetings in Kyiv at that time.
QUIGLEY: I yield to the Chairman.