If Republicans thought Kurt Volker and Timothy Morrison would bust the Democrats’ case for impeachment, they were likely disappointed by what they heard today.
At the start of the second session of today’s doubleheader impeachment hearings, Chairman Adam Schiff noted an important distinction about the two witnesses appearing before the House Intelligence Committee: Both Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, and Timothy Morrison, a senior director on the National Security Council, were “requested by the minority.”
In other words, the Republicans on the committee wanted them there. And, presumably, they wanted Volker and Morrison because they thought their testimony would help President Donald Trump and hurt the case for his impeachment.
That’s not exactly what happened.
In his opening statement, Volker made a point of defending the potential political opponent Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate, former Vice President Joe Biden, calling him “an honorable man” whom he holds in “the highest regard.” Volker referred to allegations about Biden’s involvement with Ukraine during the waning months of the Obama administration as “conspiracy theories” and said the suggestion that Biden had acted corruptly was “not credible.” Volker insisted that he did not make a connection at the time between Biden and Trump’s desire for Ukraine to investigate both possible interference in the 2016 election and the energy company Burisma, on whose board Biden’s son once sat. But Volker testified that he now understood that the president’s demands of Ukraine went beyond a generalized crackdown on corruption—that he wanted a probe of the Bidens, something Volker said this afternoon was “unacceptable.”