Like any Trump scandal, the sheer number of names and variables involved in the president’s campaign of influence in Ukraine doesn’t exactly cater to simplicity. To help keep track of who thinks it’s okay for Trump to demand personal favors from foreign leaders and who’s already copped to the quid pro quo in Ukraine, Intelligencer is providing a daily rundown of the Trump impeachment hearings’ most important characters. Week two quickens the pace of the proceedings, with four witnesses testifying on Tuesday, three on Wednesday, and two on Thursday.
The first witness of the closed-door hearings, Volker is the former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine who resigned following the whistle-blower’s report, which mentioned that he served as a conduit for Ukrainian officials to communicate with Rudy Giuliani. Texts that Volker provided to Congress also establish that President Zelensky understood that a potential visit to the White House depended upon an investigation into the conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, not Russia.
Who Is He According to Team Trump?
Republicans in the hearing will likely pursue Volker’s closed-door testimony claim that he was not aware of a quid pro quo in which Trump would release military aid in exchange for an investigation into Hunter Biden. In October, GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin claimed that his testimony “blows a hole” in the quid-pro-quo argument. CNN, however, reported that Volker did not have a close relationship with the White House, and wouldn’t be in a sound position to gauge the president’s intention.
Level of Devotion to Trump
Though Volker encouraged his associates in the foreign service not to sign a “Never Trump” letter in 2016, it appears that the move was more about ambition than politics: He reportedly did not want to close any doors on the long shot that the Republican candidate would win.
His Bombshell Revelation
Despite his claim that there was no quid pro quo, Volker will have to explain texts like this July 25 correspondence with a Ukrainian adviser on the morning of Trump’s call to Zelenksy: “Heard from the White House — assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington.”