House Intelligence Committee Republicans overseeing the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump lamented for weeks that Democrats, who dominate the committee, are suppressing Republican witnesses from publicly testifying.
Despite the baseless claims, Republicans were able to call former Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker in the hopes of bolstering their defense of Trump, since it had been Volker who, in his closed testimony, had pushed back on the notion that Trump's call with Zelensky amounted to a quid pro quo.
But it seems those hopes may have been misplaced.
In his opening statement, Volker testified that he didn't believe any of the allegations that former Vice President Joe Biden used his position to block investigations of Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company on whose board Biden's son sat, even referring to the idea as a conspiracy theory.
Volker says the accusations of wrongdoing by Joe Biden and his son Hunter are "not credible" https://t.co/xHzl0V73EQ https://t.co/fxHaPxVsHf— CBS News (@CBS News)1574198180.0
Claiming he never sought an investigation into Biden, Volker later added:
"Mayor [Rudy] Giuliani raised, and I rejected, the conspiracy theory that Vice President Biden would have been influenced in his duties as Vice President by money paid to his son. As I testified previously, I have known Vice President Biden for 24 years. He is an honorable man and I hold him in the highest regard."
Volker, who worked under Biden during the Obama administration, reiterated his defense of Biden throughout his testimony.
Rep. Adam Schiff: "Why was it that you found the allegations against Joe Biden...not to be believed?" Amb. Kurt Vo… https://t.co/KliSgckLZx— ABC News (@ABC News)1574198944.0
Further shattering the shoddy defense put forth by Republicans, Volker amended his closed-door testimony from October 3rd, in which he denied the existence of a quid pro quo in regards to the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine.
Volker changed the testimony from a denial to a lack of awareness, asserting that he did not dispute the existence of a quid pro quo.
Volker: "Since I gave my testimony on Oct. 3 ... I have learned many things that I did not know at the time of the… https://t.co/FmhOCnwiN4— Axios (@Axios)1574198161.0
Volker claimed not to understand the connection between Burisma and the Bidens, therefore not realizing that the attempted investigations into Burisma were an effort to get political dirt on Trump's potential 2020 opponent."
The Republican National Committee later tried to claim that Volker was a Democratic witness.
One of the Democrats' witnesses in today's hearing: Kurt Volker—special envoy to Ukraine. He testified that Ukrain… https://t.co/sZC2N1UbLA— GOP (@GOP)1574195166.0
People were stunned that it was Republicans' witness that ended up damaging their claims.
if this was a murder case, volker right now is like the defense pushing for a witness who then testifies, "yup i to… https://t.co/JqmKGGrnvs— Oliver Willis (@Oliver Willis)1574198188.0
Volker: “The accusation that Vice President Biden was acting inappropriately didn’t seem at all credible to me.” R… https://t.co/HqbR8CSdPk— Aaron Blake (@Aaron Blake)1574197307.0
Just read Volker's opening statement. Definitely NOT the witness Republicans were hoping for. Blows apart the Trum… https://t.co/kIRjl0U7qn— Neal Katyal (@Neal Katyal)1574195638.0
I can’t believe that Republicans were spinning that Volker and Morrison would somehow be helpful to them.— Jon Favreau (@Jon Favreau)1574200277.0
So glad Republicans pushed for Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison to testify today because they are about to annihilate t… https://t.co/61vIdmhLuj— Amee Vanderpool (@Amee Vanderpool)1574198220.0
Trump/GOP hoped Volker would be a helpful witness. Instead he: - Called both Biden corruption & Ukrainian interfer… https://t.co/MHRmeytE8U— Jim Sciutto (@Jim Sciutto)1574202647.0
Though Hunter Biden did serve on the board of Burisma, Trump and his allies have repeatedly lied about Vice President Biden's actions toward the prosecutor investigating the company for corruption.
When Biden, in accordance with US policy and consistent with the position of the European Union, called for the dismissal of prosecutor Viktor Shokin, Shokin's investigation into Burisma had already completed. In fact, Biden and others were calling for Shokin's removal because the prosecutor wasn't doing enough to weed out corruption in Ukrainian politics and was widely believed to be corrupt himself.
Volker's testimony is far from over. You can watch it here.