WASHINGTON — Democratic and Republican lawmakers from several House committees on Thursday questioned former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker in a closed-door deposition as part of the formally-launched impeachment inquiry.
Volker, who resigned from his position last week after being named in the whistleblower complaint that lead to the inquiry, arrived to Capitol Hill just before 9:00 a.m. ET to testify in a classified setting before the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees.
No Democrats who emerged from the deposition have agreed to comment as of this publication, with both Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and Gerry Connolly of Virginia repeatedly telling swarms of reporters staking out the meeting "no comment."
House Intelligence chairman Schiff also came out and said that he wouldn't comment on the testimony until it was over, though he slammed the president for publicly urging China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, on the White House South Lawn Thursday morning. Trump's July conversation with the Ukrainian president about Biden and the administration's subsequent response were the subject of the whistleblower complaint.
"A President of the United States encouraging a foreign nation to interfere again to help his campaign by investigating a rival is a fundamental breach of the President's oath of office," Schiff told reporters.
Volker resigned from his position last Friday after the release of the whistleblower's complaint a day earlier. The complaint alleged that Volker went to Kyiv to try to guide Ukraine officials on how to handle Trump's demands for them to investigate the youngerBiden's nearly five years as a member of the board that manages Ukraine's Burisma, a natural gas producer.
Meanwhile, Republicans who participated in Thursday's meeting, which lasted into the afternoon, were quick to respond.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, was the first GOP lawmaker to react to Volker's testimony, saying in a statement after the first hour of questioning that he doesn't believe that Volker "advanced Schiff's impeachment agenda."
"It is deeply unfortunate and regrettable that Schiff's show trial investigation has clearly affected Volker's ability to advance U.S. interests with Ukraine. It is my strong belief that Volker would not have been involved in nor permitted anything inappropriate, let alone illegal, in his service to our country," Turner said.
In the middle of the deposition, Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, ranking member of the Oversight panel, and Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., spoke to reporters and praised Volker as a "true professional."
Jordan said that nothing that Volker said "comports with any of the Democrats' impeachment narrative" and he criticized Schiff's handling of the deposition saying that Schiff wouldn't allow State Department counsel to participate, that Schiff put limitations on staffers assisting Volker's interview.
Volker served as U.S. special representative to Ukraine beginning in July 2017 until his resignation. He also served as U.S. ambassador to NATO under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.