US President Donald Trump's special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, has resigned following disclosures that he had connected Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani with Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family over allegedly corrupt business dealings.
Volker resigned on Friday, sources familiar with the situation said. His resignation was first reported by the student newspaper at Arizona State University, where he directs an institute focused on national security.
A whistleblower complaint from within the US intelligence community, released publicly on Thursday, described Volker as trying to “contain the damage” from efforts by Giuliani to press Ukraine to investigate Biden, one of Trump’s main rivals in next year’s presidential election.
The whistleblower said Volker also met with Ukrainian officials to help them navigate the "differing messages" they were getting through official US government channels and Giuliani's private outreach.
Democrats in the US House of Representatives, who are conducting an impeachment investigation of Trump, have sought testimony from Volker relating to a July 25 phone call in which Trump encouraged Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden.
The Trump administration appointed Volker in 2017 to lead US policy on Ukraine, in an unusual arrangement in which he was essentially a volunteer for the State Department while maintaining his university duties.
Volker, who had served in the position on a part-time, unpaid basis, had sought to help Ukraine’s government end the conflict with pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Volke is a veteran diplomat who was appointed US ambassador to NATO under former US President George W. Bush.
The whistleblower complaint at the heart of the growing controversy over Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president claims not only that Trump misused his office for personal gain and endangered national security, but that unidentified White House officials tried to keep it a secret even within the government.
Trump, the whistleblower wrote, was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
Trump lashed out against the whistleblower’s accusations on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. The president suggested that the people who spoke about his conversation with Zelensky should be viewed as traitors.