The former special U.S. envoy to Ukraine said Tuesday he rejected a charge from Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, that has been central to the president's attempts to get Ukraine to open a criminal probe into former Vice President Joe Biden.
Kurt Volker told the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee that during a July 19 in-person meeting, "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."
During a July 25 call, Trump repeatedly pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open a corruption probe into Democratic front-runner Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, asking for a "favor." He additionally asked Zelensky to probe a conspiracy theory that seeks to advance a theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, who interfered in the 2016 White House race.
Asked later by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff why he does not find the allegations against Biden to be believable, Volker said he knows how Biden "respects his duties of higher office."
"It's just not credible to me that a vice president of the United States is going to do anything other than act as how he sees best for the national interest," Volker said, citing his 24-year history with the elder Biden.
Volker further echoed comments from two witnesses who appeared before the committee earlier Tuesday, saying Trump's request to Zelensky was "inappropriate."
That language was first used by Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's director of European affairs, who told the committee, "It is improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent."
Vindman said he was among the White House staffers in the Situation Room who listened in on the "inappropriate" call.
He was testifying alongside Jennifer Williams, a career State Department official who is Vice President Mike Pence's top Russia adviser, who testified that Trump's "unusual" request to Zelensky "struck me as political in nature, given that the former vice president is a political opponent of the president."
When asked if the request was designed to help with Trump's re-election, Williams demurred, declining to speculate on Trump’s motive.
Pence's national security advisor, Keith Kellogg, pushed back on Williams' testimony, saying in a statement released by the vice president's office that while being on the July 25 telephone call, "I heard nothing wrong or improper on the call."
"I had and have no concerns. Ms. Williams was also on the call, and as she testified, she never reported any personal or professional concerns to me, her direct supervisor, regarding the call," said Kellogg, a retired Army general.
Williams told the committee that she did not report the call to her superiors because her boss, Kellogg, was on the call.
By Michael Hernandez in Washington