FILE- In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Committee on Intelligence, pauses while speaking during a media availability after a closed-door meeting of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Two weeks after President Donald Trump blocked its full release, the House Intelligence Committee published on Saturday, Feb. 24, a partially blacked-out version of a classified Democratic memo aiming to counter a GOP narrative that the FBI and Justice Department conspired against Trump as they investigated his ties to Russia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Kurt Volker, who resigned as US Special Representative to Ukraine at the State Department Friday, testifies today in a closed-door session before the Intelligence, Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs committees. He is the fist official to testify about the whistleblower report alleging Trump engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine to get “dirt” on his political opponent Joe Biden. Volker, who was also employed as the Executive Director of McCain Institute, resigned from his position at State the same day he was called to testify before Congressional committees.
While the mainstream press has kept relatively quiet about Volker’s testimony — which is ostensibly going to clear up exactly what role Volker played in facilitating a conversation between Trump’s lawyer Rudolph Giuliani and Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Andriy Yermak — what the former aide to senator John McCain has to say today could prove the impeachment inquiry’s undoing.
At issue is a dispute about how the meeting between Ukraine and Giuliani was arranged. Volker has said he had tried to facilitate a meeting between Giuliani and Yermak at Yermak’s request. CNN reports that Volker was interested in taking the Biden issue “off the table” until it eventually fizzled out. Giuliani says State was the one who initiated the meeting.
A source familiar with Volker’s thinking said he was trying to get the Biden-Giuliani issue off the table, given that it was a political effort and not one that he was meant to support in his State Department role.
Volker did not want the controversy to occupy the center of bilateral conversations either, the source said, and hoped that in connecting Giuliani with Yermak, it would lead to a conversation in which the Ukrainians would agree to look into the matter and it would eventually fizzle out in two or three years.
Giuliani, meanwhile, has repeatedly claimed that these meetings were arranged at the State Department’s request, pointing to Volker as the official who reached out to arrange them and showing text exchanges on television to back up that claim.
In one of the texts Giuliani released, Volker is quoted as suggesting a phone call with Yermak and Giuliani. It is unclear just how involved Volker was with Giuliani’s political efforts.
My colleague Stu covered last week why Volker’s appearance in all this whistleblower madness is important. In a sentence: it looks a lot like Russia collusion again thanks to what we suspect about the other McCain Institute employee recently in the news – David Kramer.
What we know: Rudy Giuliani was approached by Kurt Volker, then the US Special Representative to Ukraine at the State Department, to meet with Andriy Yermak, a top adviser of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in order to help facilitate a phone call and/or meeting between Zelensky and President Trump. Volker is concurrently the head of the McCain Institute for International Leadership and also a senior adviser at his old lobbying firm, BGR Group, which just happens to represent Ukraine.
What we suspect: David Kramer from the McCain Institute was involved in pushing/propagating the fake Russian dossier.
David Kramer, who had known McCain since his days at the State Department, is an expert on Russia and is involved with the McCain Institute for International Leadership. He was deposed in December 2017 as part of a legal battle waged by a Russian businessman Aleksej Gubarev over BuzzFeed’s publication of the dossier.
Kramer’s deposition — which reads like a spy thriller and offers an extraordinary behind-the-scenes lead up to the publication of the dossier — reveals that he circulated the dossier to multiple news organizations.
Read the rest here.
There are no such things as coincidences. John McCain was virulently anti-Trump, as were/are many in the McCain Institute. Kramer propagated the fake dossier, likely at McCain’s behest. Both Kramer and Volker were in the McCain Institute’s International Leadership group. Volker helped set up Guiliani’s contacts with Ukrainian officials. Occam’s razor says that this gambit was a repeat play of the beginnings of the Russian dossier hoax, with Volker’s resignation Friday adding suspicion to fuel the media’s fire. [Note: an alternative view to Volker’s resignation is that he was caught out and was forced to resign. Regardless, either reason makes him complicit in the conspiracy.]
Early reports indicate whatever the committees hoped Volker’s testimony would provide that might help Democrats’ impeachment inquiry isn’t exactly panning out that way.
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