Volker’s Opening Statement describes Trump as “very skeptical” of the “terrible people” in Ukraine who “tried to take me down.”

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Congressional democrats today released the full text of former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker’s prepared statement which he gave at the outset of his nine hours of testimony yesterday. You can read the full text of the statement here. Volker, from Arizona, is a “McCain republican” who served as a career diplomat, Senior Foreign Service Officer, and former Ambassador to NATO. “

One key takeaway from the document is that Volker goes to some length describing what he characterizes as a skeptical attitude of President Trump toward the Ukraine — something he observed first hand in a meeting with Trump on May 23, 2019. In that meeting, as part of a State department contingent, Volker stressed the group’s view that Zelenskyy represented the best chance for “getting Ukraine out of the mire of corruption it had been in for over 20 years.” He argued that the next 3-6 months would determine the future of Ukraine for the next 5 years. We urged him to invite President Zelenskyy to the White House.

Trump, according to Volker, was “very skeptical.” He told the group that Ukraine was a corrupt country full of “terrible people.” He went on to tell the group that the Ukrainians “tried to take me down” — a clear reference to the Lutsenko-promulgated theory of 2016 election involvement. What was also clear during the meeting was that Trump had been talking to Giuliani, and was significantly influenced by Guiliani repeating to him the narratives he had picked up from Lutsenko. Volker notes:

It was clear to me that despite the positive news and recommendations being conveyed by this official delegation about the new President, President Trump had a deeply rooted negative view on Ukraine rooted in the past. He was clearly receiving other information from other sources, including Mayor Giuliani, that was more negative, causing him to retain this negative view.

In carrying out this role, I at some stage found myself faced with a choice: to be aware of a problem and to ignore it, or rather to accept that it was my responsibility to try to fix it.I would not have been true to myself, my duties, or my commitment to the people of the United States or Ukraine, if I did not dive in and try to fix problems as best I could.

So what was the problem, and what did he attempt to do to fix it?

….in May of this year, I became concerned that a negative narrative about Ukraine,fueled by assertions made by Ukraine’s departing Prosecutor General, was reaching the President of the United States, and impeding our ability to support the new Ukrainian government as robustly as I believed we should. After sharing my concerns with the Ukrainian leadership, an advisor to President Zelenskyy asked me to connect him to the President’s personal lawyer, Mayor Rudy Giuliani. I did so. I did so solely because I understood that the new Ukrainian leadership wanted to convince those, like Mayor Giuliani, who believed such a negative narrative about Ukraine, that times have changed and that, under President Zelenskyy, Ukraine is worthy of U.S. support. I also made clear to the Ukrainians, on a number of occasions, that Mayor Giuliani is a private citizen and the President’s personal lawyer, and that he does not represent the United States government.

Here is the full statement by Volker. It’s well worth reading. It helps flesh out the State department involvement, and the conflict between State officials and Giuliani.

Volker-Opening-Statement

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