A House Democrat-led closed door interview with former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker Thursday did not go as well as Democrats had hoped, according to reports.
Volker appeared before the Intelligence, Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs committees to testify on a deep state “whistleblower’s” allegation that President Trump tried to pressure Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
According to Rep Lee Zeldin (R.-N.Y.), Volker’s testimony was “blowing a massive hole in that allegation.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, also told reporters that Volker did not tell House members anything that supports the Democrats’ premise for their impeachment investigation against the president.
“Not one thing he has said comports with any of the Democrats’ impeachment narrative,” Rep. Jordan told reporters during a break in the questioning, Thursday afternoon.
Democrats had high hopes that Volker’s testimony would be “damaging to the President and his allies.”
At one point during the deposition, however, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.)had to take over questioning from his own side’s counsel because it wasn’t going well, according to Republican sources.
Hearing from two sources with knowledge of the Volker deposition that Schiff at one point took over questioning from his counsel. One source described that as "unusual" given that staff was supposed to lead, and indicates Dems are "nervous" about how it's going.
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) October 3, 2019
An official familiar with the testimony of State Dept. official Kurt Volker describes the testimony as a “setback” for Schiff’s impeachment efforts.
So far, Volker’s testimony “does nothing to advance Chairman Schiff’s theory of the case,” the official says.
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) October 3, 2019
Volker resigned from his position as the special envoy on September 27, after being mentioned in the whistleblower complaint alleging wrongdoing by Trump in a July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president. The president had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyto to look into corruption allegations surrounding Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 Russia hoax and also Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden’s allegedly corrupt dealings in the country.
Jordan blasted what he called “the process Mr. Schiff has set up” to interview witnesses in the impeachment probe. Schiff initially was going to try to limit GOP members from asking questions, Jordan complained to reporters during the break.
Less than 24 hours before the Volker’s interview was scheduled to start, Republicans learned that it would be led by the Intelligence Committee and that questioning would be done solely by their staff.
Additionally, Democrats did not allow agency counsel participate, Jordan told reporters.
“Mark [Meadows] and I have participated in a countless number of transcribed interviews,” Jordan said. “We have never, ever had an occasion where agency counsel was not allowed to participate, where there were limitations put on our staff who could be there for the interview, and we’ve never seen a chairman suggest that members aren’t allowed to ask questions.”
Jordan described Volker as “unbelievably knowledgeable about what was going on in Ukraine.”
“Ambassador Volker has been very impressive as I said,” he added, reiterating that “he’s said nothing that coincides with what the Democrats are saying with their whole impeachment narrative.”
In answer to a reporter’s question, he repeated, “nothing he has said supports the narrative you’ve been hearing from Mr. Schiff and the Democrats—nothing!”
Rep. Zeldin suggested to reporters that Democrats would regret launching their impeachment inquiry before having all the facts buttoned down. “Now what we’re going to see with one person after another coming before these committees of jurisdiction are blowing massive holes inside of the theory—the narrative—that Chairman Schiff has been providing to the public,” he said.
“For example, when he says that President Trump was asking President Zelensky to manufacture dirt on the Bidens— today blows a hole in that argument. When you’re making a claim that the president was asking for a quid pro quo with President Zelensky, today is blowing a massive hole in that allegation,” he added.
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) October 3, 2019
Republicans are calling on Schiff to release the entire transcript of Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker’s testimony, after Dems selectively leaked portions deemed to be damaging to Trump.
— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) October 4, 2019