Former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker has said he did not link the investigation against the Burisma energy company with former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, as well as the hold on military aid to Ukraine with the launch of the inquiries.
"First, at the time I was connecting Mr. [Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy] Yermak and [U.S. President Donald Trump's personal attorney and ex-Mayor of New York City] Mr. Giuliani, and discussing with Mr. Yermak and Amb. [Gordon] Sondland a possible statement that could be made by the Ukrainian president, I did not know of any linkage between the hold on security assistance and Ukraine pursuing investigations. No one had ever said that to me – and I never conveyed such a linkage to the Ukrainians," he testified in the House impeachment inquiry on November 19, 2019.
"I opposed the hold on U.S. security assistance as soon as I learned about it on July 18, and thought we could turn it around before the Ukrainians ever knew or became alarmed about it. I did not know the reason for the hold, but I viewed it as a U.S. policy problem that we needed to fix internally, and I was confident we would do so," Volker said.
"When I spoke to the Ukrainians about the hold after August 29, instead of telling them that they needed to do something to get the hold released, I told them the opposite – that they should not be alarmed, it was an internal U.S. problem, and we were working to get it fixed. I did not know others were conveying a different message to them around that same time."
Volker also said he drew a sharp distinction between the Burisma case and Vice President Biden.
"I did not understand that others believed that any investigation of the Ukrainian company, Burisma, which had a history of accusations of corruption, was tantamount to investigating Vice President Biden. I drew a sharp distinction between the two. It has long been U.S. policy under multiple administrations to urge Ukraine to investigate and fight internal corruption. I was quite comfortable with Ukraine making its own statement, about its own policy, of investigating and fighting corruption at home," he said.
Volker also commented on the situation around Biden and his son.
"At the one in-person meeting I had with Mayor Giuliani on July 19, Mayor Giuliani raised, and I rejected, the conspiracy theory that Vice President Biden would have been influenced in his duties as Vice President by money paid to his son. As I testified previously, I have known Vice President Biden for 24 years. He is an honorable man and I hold him in the highest regard."
"At no time was I aware of or knowingly took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden. As you know from the extensive documentation I have provided, Vice President Biden was not a topic of discussion. I was not on the July 25 phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky. I was not made aware of any reference to Vice President Biden or his son by President Trump, until the transcript of that call was released on September 25, 2019," Volker said.
He also said he had never been aware of any designation by President Trump or anyone else putting Amb. Sondland or their group in charge of Ukraine policy.
"Rather, as I understood it, each of us, in our own respective official capacities, continued to work together after our attendance at President Zelensky's inauguration to push for greater U.S. support for Ukraine," Volker added.