- The Washington Times
Friday, October 4, 2019

Kurt Volker, former special envoy to Ukraine, told lawmakers in a closed-door meeting Thursday that the theories about Ukraine working with the 2016 Clinton campaign and involving the Biden family were peddled by Yuriy Lutsenko, the former Ukrainian prosecutor general.

According to a readout of Mr. Volker’s opening statement, obtained by BuzzFeed News, he became aware in May that Mr. Lutsenko was pushing “self-serving” allegations that some Ukrainians were trying to feed the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign damaging information about then-candidate Donald Trump.

Mr. Lutsenko was also spreading the story that Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian company, was trying to gain influence over former Vice President Joseph R. Biden by paying high fees to his son Hunter.

“In May of this year, I became concerned that a negative narrative about Ukraine fueled by assertions made by Ukraine’s departing Prosecutor General, was reaching the President of the United States and impeding out ability to support the new Ukrainian government as robustly as I believed we should,” Mr. Volker said.

Mr. Volker is a key figure in the impeachment inquiry. He was one of the leading figures in trying to get President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to talk.

Mr. Volker reached out to Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to warn him that Mr. Lutsenko and his allegations were unreliable. Mr. Giuliani was planning to travel to Ukraine at that time, although that trip was ultimately cancelled.

Mr. Volker defended Mr. Biden against allegations of wrongdoing.

“I have known former Vice President Biden for 24 years. The the suggestions that he would be influenced in his duties as Vice President by money for his son simply had no credibility to me. I know him as a man of integrity and dedication to our country,” he told lawmakers.

While Mr. Volker knew that Mr. Giuliani was pressing for the Ukrainian government to make a statement about fighting corruption and mention Burisma or the 2016 election, he said he was unaware that Mr. Biden was a specific subject of discussion until the transcript of Mr. Trump’s phone conversation with the Ukrainian president was made public.

Mr. Volker said he was under the impression the meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky would be focused on rooting out corruption in the Ukrainian government.

That public statement was ultimately scrapped after diplomats grew concerned about Ukraine appearing to interfere in the 2020 elections.

The former state department official explained that in his efforts to support the new Ukrainian administration, led by Mr. Zelensky, he was asked by the president’s aide Andrey Yermak to connect him to Mr. Giuliani.

“I did so solely because I understood that the new Ukrainian leadership wanted to convince those, like Mayor Giuliani, who believed such a negative narrative about Ukraine, that times have changed and that under President Zelenksy Ukraine is worthy of U.S. support,” Mr. Volker said.

He notified the Ukrainians that Mr. Giuliani was not an official U.S. representative.

As Mr. Volker was setting up a meeting between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Yermak in mid-July, he was notified that there was a delay on aide of Ukraine, but he did not see it as connected to the ongoing efforts to set up a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky.

“I did not perceive these issues to be linked in any way,” he said. “Everything from the force of law to the unanimous position of the House, Senate, Pentagon State Department and NSC staff agued for going forward, and I knew it would just be a matter of time.”

Mr. Volker spent more than nine hours being questioned by members and staffers on Capitol Hill Wednesday, as part of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against the president. It is centered on the allegations that Mr. Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate his political opponent, Mr. Biden.

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