The Washington Examiner reported on Oct. 16 the dialogue of a secret meeting where Democrat House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff compelled U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker to admit that President Trump exerted pressure on the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens.
In the meeting that reportedly took place on Oct. 3, Schiff repeatedly insisted that the president used the withholding of the Ukrainian aid as a means of pressure, which was decisively denied by Volker.
Volker asserted that the Ukrainian officials were not aware of the fact that their military aid was being withheld until after the phone call between the two presidents. And to Volker’s knowledge, the Ukrainian leaders at the time were confident with their relationship with the United States and apparently felt no pressure whatsoever.
The deposition is part of the effort by House Democrats in pushing forward the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
Schiff referred to U.S. military support as quid pro quo but failed to get Volker to agree.
A large part of the dialogue centered on the military aid, the potential pressure from the United States, and reached to the point that when he didn’t get Volker’s agreement, Schiff said, “Ambassador, you’re making this much more complicated than it has to be.”
The excerpt of the media’s report:
He asked Volker whether he would agree that “no president of the United States should ever ask a foreign leader to help intervene in a U.S. election.”
“I agree with that,” said Volker.
“And that would be particularly egregious if it was done in the context of withholding foreign assistance?” Schiff continued.
Volker balked. “We’re getting now into, you know, a conflation of these things that I didn’t think was actually there.”
Schiff wanted Volker to agree that “if it’s inappropriate for a president to seek foreign help in a U.S. election, it would be doubly so if a president was doing that at a time when the United States was withholding military support from the country.”
Again, Volker did not agree. “I can’t really speak to that,” he said. “My understanding of the security assistance issue is — “
Schiff interrupted. “Why can’t you speak to that, ambassador? You’re a career diplomat. You can understand the enormous leverage that a president would have while withholding military support from an ally at war with Russia. You can understand just how significant that would be, correct?”
Volker tried to go along without actually agreeing. “I can understand that that would be significant,” he said.
Schiff persisted. “And when that suspension of aid became known to that country, to Ukraine, it would be all the more weighty to consider what the president had asked of them, wouldn’t it?”
“So again, congressman, I don’t believe — ” Volker began.
“It’s a pretty straightforward question,” Schiff said.
“But I don’t believe the Ukrainians were aware that the assistance was being held up — “
“They became aware of it,” Schiff said.
“They became aware later, but I don’t believe they were aware at the time, so there was no leverage implied,” Volker said.
Volker also emphasized that the discussion about the Bidens during that phone call was unknown to him until the phone call transcript was released.
He testified that he himself got to know about the withholding of the aid a week before the Trump-Zelenskiy call, but not until late August that the suspension was mentioned by his Ukrainian associates.
Based on his observations and experience, he sensed that even after the suspension of assistance was made known to them, the Ukrainian officials showed no sign of being under pressure or lack of conviction in their bilateral relationships.
Other facts supported Volker’s claim. In the interview with CBS News, President Zelenskiy affirmed that he got to know about the fact that the aid was held up before the meeting in Warsaw with Vice President Mike Pence in late August.
Regarding the aid, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union also asserted, “The president has been crystal clear: no quid pro quos of any kind. The president is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelenskiy promised during his campaign.”
Zelenskiy, in the above interview, denied he was ever pressured by President Trump during their controversial phone call, as well.