Introduction by Ryan Goodman:
Ambassador Kurt Volker faces a serious credibility problem for having denied knowledge or involvement in President Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to press Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. He also appears to have lied about a crucial July 10 meeting at the White House and other related matters. Volker faces a serious legal liability problem too. He made these apparent false statements to Congress in his deposition under penalty of law. The Chart below presents detailed information comparing Volker’s testimony to the testimony of at least eleven other current and former U.S. officials whose statements contradict what Volker told Congress.
Volker was included in Ranking Member Devin Nunes’ (R-Ca) final list of minority witnesses for the public hearings on impeachment. He is scheduled to appear on Tuesday afternoon.
On the morning of Oct. 3, Volker was the very first witness to testify in closed session before the three House Committees conducting the impeachment inquiry. Volker would have no way of knowing exactly which of his colleagues would later testify and what they might say. Within hours of the Committees’ announcing a subpoena for Volker, he publicly resigned from his position as Special Envoy to Ukraine. He thus had greater latitude to speak with Congress. Several of his colleagues — including David Holmes, George Kent, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, Ambassador Bill Taylor, and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman — did not resign.
Now all of their deposition transcripts and others’ testimony as well is publicly available.
Volker’s testimony was unfavorable to the President and Giuliani in many respects. However in other important instances, Volker denied allegations about his own wrongdoing and the existence of the alleged pressure campaign against Ukraine. Sondland’s original testimony (on Oct. 17) was more closely aligned with Volker’s accounts, until Sondland broke from that message and issued a supplemental deposition nearly three weeks later (on Nov. 4).
Comparing Volker’s testimony to other witnesses raises very serious concerns about Volker’s truthfulness before Congress. To be more specific, it appears that Mr. Volker lied to Congress in violation of federal criminal law (18 USC 1001). The most serious instances include his flat denial that the Ukraine “investigations” were discussed in a July 10 meeting at the White House, his denial of his own knowledge or involvement in efforts to urge Ukraine to investigate Biden, his denial of his own knowledge or involvement in a quid pro quo scheme, and his claim that efforts to get Ukraine to make a public statement about the investigations ended in mid-to-late August.
Volker now has a choice to make before he appears before Congress and the public on Tuesday. He might be best advised to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Alternatively, he may want to issue a supplemental declaration of his own. Or he could include a “clarification” related to his prior statements during his prepared opening remarks at the Tuesday afternoon hearing.
None of this necessarily casts blame on Volker for his actions on behalf of the United States. It appears he was caught in the middle of a complex problem not of his own making. As a seasoned diplomat he tried to steer the situation toward an endpoint in which Ukraine could meet the demands of the President to maintain U.S. support. As Volker said in his prepared remarks last month, “I therefore faced a choice: do nothing, and allow this situation to fester; or try to fix it. I tried to fix it.” With Congress now in a full blown impeachment inquiry, Volker has a second opportunity to explain with complete candor what really happened over the course of the past several months.
I believe any fair-minded assessment of the record will reach a similar conclusion about Volker’s credibility and legal liability problems. The data presenting the competing testimony of witnesses are provided in the Chart below. It identifies thirteen topics of concern. Please contact us if you think the Chart is missing any significant information favorable or unfavorable to Mr. Volker.
The 60-page Chart is available in two formats as a PDF (here) and as a Scribd file (below).