WASHINGTON — A second witness in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump just revised his previous sworn testimony in a way that makes things look even worse for Trump.
Ambassador Kurt Volker, Trump’s former special envoy to Ukraine, said in his public hearing Tuesday that he now remembers overhearing a discussion of investigations during a key White House meeting with Ukrainian officials on July 10.
Volker joins Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, in remembering an important conversation about Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine that he'd omitted in his first round of closed-door depositions.
Volker’s refreshed account better matches up with other witnesses who have described Sondland raising the question of investigations at that meeting, right before former National Security Advisor John Bolton abruptly declared the gathering over.
“As I remember, the meeting was essentially over when Ambassador Sondland made a generic comment about investigations,” Volker said during the open hearing on Capitol Hill. “I think all of us thought it was inappropriate; the conversation did not continue, and the meeting concluded.”
Volker had previously said that nothing of the sort had happened.
He was asked whether there had been any discussion “about the investigations that we’ve been talking about?”
Volker replied, simply: “No.”
Asked whether a meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had been discussed at that meeting, Volker said: "It was just, ‘Do we have a date for the visit yet?’ And John Bolton saying, ‘No, we don’t have a date.’”
On Tuesday, Volker provided a fresh excuse for why he hadn’t heard anything about investigations at a follow-up incident in the Ward Room, when other witnesses have testified that Sondland again brought up investigations.
“Later on, in the Ward Room, I may have been engaged in a side conversation, or had already left the complex, because I do not recall further discussion regarding investigations or Burisma,” Volker said.
Two high-level staffers from the National Security Council — Dr. Fiona Hill and Lt. Col. Alex Vindman — have testified about confronting Sondland in the Ward Room, telling him that raising the question of investigations in front of visiting Ukrainian dignitaries was inappropriate.
Volker came under blistering criticism even before he appeared on Tuesday from Ryan Goodman, a former top Defense Department lawyer and editor of the Just Security blog. Goodman published a lengthy chart comparing Volker’s comments to those made by others in the inquiry to suggest that Volker had not been truthful or candid in his first round of closed testimony.
Cover: Ambassador Kurt Volker, left, former special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former official at the National Security Council are sworn in to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)