GOP laments Schiff's handling of Ukraine probe, Volker testimony

Henrietta Brewer
October 4, 2019

Volker resigned last week after being named in the whistleblower complaint as the diplomat who set up a meeting between a top adviser to Ukraine's president and Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani during his quest to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rival Joe Biden and his son. Volker has also turned over physical documents, white papers and correspondence with other officials, the person said. The 54-year-old, also a former USA ambassador to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, appeared before the committees voluntarily.

Rep. Jim Jordan, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, said Kurt Volker, the former USA special envoy to Ukraine, has not told House members anything that supports the premise of their impeachment investigation against President Donald Trump.

The calls to investigate were a repeat of Trump's actions on a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July, the contents of which were released by the White House in a rough transcript of the call and in a whistleblower complaint later made public after being withheld by the White House.

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal said Trump ordered the removal in May of the then-ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, after months of complaints from allies that she was undermining him overseas and obstructing efforts to persuade Kiev to investigate the Bidens.

"I think he was doing the best he could", said retired senior USA diplomat Daniel Fried, who described the actions of his former colleague as trying to guide Ukrainians on "how to deal with President Trump under hard circumstances".

Charges that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate the Bidens helped prompt House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to announce a formal impeachment investigation last week. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you ·can look into it ...

Trump supporters have accused Joe Biden of leading a US effort to remove a Ukraine prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in a bid to end investigations at Burisma, an energy company in which his son held a board seat.

When asked whether he thought anything was improper on the phone call, Pompeo said Wednesday that everything the Trump administration has done related to Ukraine has been "remarkably consistent" and focused on confronting the "threat that Russian Federation poses" and rooting out "corruption" in Ukraine.

The freshman congresswoman is like many others on the left who are anticipating the Trump impeachment hearings.

Some Republicans have criticized Biden for taking his son on the Air Force Two vice presidential plane in 2013 to China, where Hunter had business interests.

Trump froze $400 million in USA aid to Ukraine shortly before he asked its president for the favour, prompting accusations from Democrats that he had misused US foreign policy for personal gain.

"I would say President Zelensky, if it was me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens", Trump said.

Biden's deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement that Trump's comments on Thursday showed he was "desperately clutching for conspiracy theories that have been debunked".

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