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Friday, December 13, 2019

Ex-Envoy to tell impeachment inquiry he was unaware of Trump Ukraine pressure

As the House Intelligence Committee opens its second week of public impeachment hearings, Volker will say that he did not realize that others working for Trump were tying US security aid to a commitment to investigate Democrats.

By: New York Times | Washington | Published: November 19, 2019 11:47:19 am
Ex-Envoy to tell impeachment inquiry he was unaware of Trump Ukraine pressure Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, leaves after giving a closed-door deposition with House impeachment investigators in Washington. (Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times)

Written by Peter Baker, Catie Edmondson and Nicholas Fandos

Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, plans to tell lawmakers Tuesday that he was out of the loop at key moments during President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to turn up damaging information about Democrats, according to an account of his prepared testimony.

As the House Intelligence Committee opens its second week of public impeachment hearings, Volker will say that he did not realize that others working for Trump were tying US security aid to a commitment to investigate Democrats. His testimony, summarized by a person informed about it who insisted on anonymity, will seek to reconcile his previous closed-door description of events with conflicting versions offered subsequently by other witnesses.

Volker will be one of four witnesses appearing before the committee Tuesday as it ramps up its investigation into the president’s effort to extract domestic political help from a foreign power while holding up $391 million in security aid. The committee, which had eight witnesses set for this week, added a ninth Monday by calling David Holmes, a senior U.S. Embassy official in Ukraine who overheard a conversation in which Trump asked about whether Ukraine was going to agree to carry out the investigations he wanted.

Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, defended the inquiry Monday, arguing that lawmakers have no choice but to examine what she called clear evidence of wrongdoing by Trump.

“The facts are uncontested: that the president abused his power for his own personal, political benefit, at the expense of our national security interests,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democratic colleagues.

Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday that he would “strongly consider” testifying in the impeachment inquiry, after Pelosi raised the idea during a weekend television interview.

That does not mean he will actually do it. During the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, into ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign, the president suggested he might testify in person, but ultimately refused to do so and instead submitted written answers drafted with the help of his lawyers.

On Monday, the top lawyer for House Democrats said impeachment investigators are exploring whether Trump lied in those written answers to Mueller.

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