- In excerpts of his testimony to Congress, former US Special Representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker says that President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani served as a backchannel between Trump and Ukrainian officials.
- Volker also said Giuliani personally demanded Ukraine put out a statement announcing the investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of oil and gas company Burisma Holdings from 2014 to 2019.
- Giuliani pushed the discredited allegations that the Bidens were involved in corrupt activity and the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Hillary Clinton.
- Later in his testimony, Volker said that Giuliani specifically requested the draft statement on the investigations mention “Burisma and 2016.”
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In newly-released excerpts of the testimony of former US Special Representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker to Congress, Volker said that President Donald Trump‘s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani served as both a “conduit” to Ukraine and demanded they announce investigations that would be politically favorable to Trump.
Volker testified as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry into Trump, which centers around a whistleblower complaint claiming that the Trump administration withheld a $400 million military aid package in exchange for Ukraine announcing an investigation into the Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma Holdings – where former Vice President Joe Biden‘s son Hunter Biden served on the board from 2014 to 2019
For months, Giuliani played a crucial role in the administration’s dealings with Ukraine and pushed both the discredited allegations that the Bidens were involved in corrupt activity, and the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election to the benefit of Hillary Clinton.
Volker testified that Giuliani was a conduit between Ukraine and Trump, personally demanded Ukraine put out a statement announcing the investigations into Biden and Hunter.
When asked why Ukraine would want to deal with Giuliani, a non-government official, Volker said it was “because the Ukrainians asked to be connected to him in order to try to get across their message of being different from the past,” adding, “that information would flow to the President.”
According to text messages turned over to Congress, Volker played an active role in setting up communications and meetings between Giuliani and Yermak, Zelensky’s aide.
“Heard from White House – assuming President Z convinces trump (sic) he will investigate/’get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Volker wrote in an August 30 text message to fellow diplomat Bill Taylor, seemingly implying that a meeting between Zelensky and Trump would be contingent on investigations.
Later in his testimony, Volker said that Giuliani specifically requested the draft statement on the investigations mention “Burisma and 2016.”
Volker told investigators that he and former US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland had “a conversation with Rudy to say: The Ukrainians are looking at this text. Rudy says: Well, if it doesn’t say Burisma and if it doesn’t say 2016, what does it mean? You know, it’s not credible. You know, they’re hiding something. And so we talked and I said: So what you’re saying is just at the end of the – same statement, just insert Burisma and 2016, you think that would be more credible? And he said: Yes.”
In the transcript of Sondland’s testimony to Congress, also released on Tuesday, Sondland acknowledged that the military aid was withheld in anticipation of Ukraine making a public anti-corruption statement that would announce investigations of the Bidens, which he described as “improper.”
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) November 5, 2019
Giuliani and Trump have alleged, without evidence, that as vice president, Biden tried to help his son by calling for the firing of Viktor Shokin, a Ukranian prosecutor who they incorrectly claim was investigating Burisma. Giuliani has defended himself by saying he got involved only because State Department officials asked him to.
But The Wall Street Journal and other outlets have reported that Shokin was accused of being soft on corruption and hampering investigations, including the one into Burisma – in essence, Biden, and much of the international community, urged Shokin’s ouster because he was ineffective.
Volker confirmed that Giuliani’s allegations against the Bidens were baseless, saying in his testimony that Biden, in publicly calling for Shokin’s firing, was “executing U.S. policy at the time and what was widely understood internationally to be the right policy.”
As a non-government official, Giuliani’s heavy involvement in the Trump administration’s contracts with Ukraine could land him in serious legal jeopardy.
Former prosecutors interviewed by Insider argued that Giuliani’s collaboration with the Trump administration in pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens could violate the Logan Act, the Hobbs Act, or federal campaign-finance laws.
Volker’s testimony further shows how Giuliani directly pressuring Ukraine to release a statement announcing the probes could even rise to the level of conspiracy in a bribery scheme if Trump were found to have leveraged military aid in exchange for investigations.
On October 14, The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors in New York – with the office Giuliani directed in the 1980s as US attorney for the Southern District of New York – have seized Giuliani’s bank and business records in connection with the investigation and arrested his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the former of whom is now cooperating in the impeachment inquiry.