All eyes were on ambassador Kurt Volker this afternoon, in part because the former ambassador was one of the witnesses the Republicans requested, and in part because Jim Jordan keeps saying that Volker's closed-door testimony proves Trump is as innocent as a newborn lamb swaddled with angels, and because Volker has been described as one of the "three amigos" (along with Gordon Sondland and Rick Perry).
We learned today that Volker does not identify as one of the "three amigos." He said in his opening statement that he cringes whenever he hears that phrase applied to him, because he thinks of the "three amigos" as John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsay Graham (remember "the surge"?). Moreover, as he put it, "I was the lead U.S. diplomat dealing with Russia's war on Ukraine. My role was not some irregular channel, but the official channel."
But to my point: The guy would not shut up about how great he thinks Joe Biden is, how honorable, how there's no way the conspiracy theories are true. If you keep wondering who out there supports Joe Biden for president, well, guess what, we've finally found a huge Biden fan. It's Republican Kurt Volker!
Here are a few things he said about the guy:
• "I don't find it plausible or credible that Joe Biden would have been influenced in his duties."
• "It is not credible to me that former Vice President Biden would have been influenced in any way by financial or personal motives in carrying out his duties as Vice President."
• "The accusation that Vice President Biden acted inappropriately did not seem at all credible to me."
• "The allegations against Vice President Biden are self-serving and not credible."
• "Mayor 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."
His love for Joe Biden aside...
Volker's testimony amounted to a huge clarification on two major issues.
The first was that he previously testified in the closed-door hearing that he didn't think the hold-up of aid money was contingent on Ukraine conducting investigations; he now believes it was (sorry, Republicans!).
The other was that he did not previously realize that Burisma had anything to do with the Bidens, and if he did know that, he would have objected to the Burisma investigation (sorry again, Republicans!), because... well, you know how he feels about Joe Biden.
I have to say, though, that second explanation sounds a little too convenient. He had no idea Biden's son was a board member for Burisma? I have a hard time believing that. Marie Yovanovitch testified that the Obama White House gave her a talking point about Hunter Biden's association with Burisma. President Trump mentioned Biden directly in his phone call with Ukraine's president (Volker says he didn't know the contents of the call until the transcript was released). But okay, Kurt. Maybe you didn't know, in Giuliani-speak, that Burisma = Bidens. Maybe your computer doesn't have Google.
Here was his explanation: "In hindsight, I now understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption involving the Ukranian company Burisma as equivalent to investigating former Vice President Biden. I saw them as very different—the former being appropriate and unremarkable, the latter being unacceptable. In retrospect, I should have seen that connection differently, and had I done so, I would have raised my own objections."
So once again, he's saying that what President Trump wanted from Ukraine's president was "unacceptable" (sorry, Republicans!).
Wait, wait, wait—you may be wondering—what about that side meeting on July 20, convened by Gordon Sondland in the Ward Room, after John Bolton abruptly called a previous meeting to an end when Sondland started talking about "investigations"? Sondland started talking about Burisma, Biden, and the 2016 election. Volker was in the room. Volker's explanation: "I may have been engaged in a side conversation, or had already left the complex, because I do not recall" Sondland discussing Burisma, Biden, and 2016. Volker thinks he may have been talking to Rick Perry at the time (but he's not a three amigo, okay?!!!).
Whatever. Maybe you're telling the truth, former ambassador Volker, and maybe you're not. Either way, I'm choosing to dwell on just how pissed off Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes, and the other Republicans must have been as Volker praised Joe Biden non-fucking-stop. They must have been seething. Trump must have been seething. Good thing Volker (unlike Vindman) already quit his job!
After Volker spent his testimony talking about what a good man Joe Biden is and what nonsense the conspiracy theory is, the Republicans looked glum. Jersey-cow-in-a-human-suit Devin Nunes was forced to moo some weird melancholic bleat about how no one was even watching this hearing anyway (in his dreams!). After he used that common Trump attack of talking about low ratings, he then used John Bolton's infamous attack against Giuliani ("I'm not part of whatever drug deal...") as an attack against the Democrats. The guy does not have a brain.
Nunes is so dumb the only insult he can think of for Democrats is the exact same insult John Bolton coined to describe Rudy Giuliani‘s cabal — “drug deal.” pic.twitter.com/HnctuUE7xi
— ChristopherFrizzelle (@TheFrizzelle) November 19, 2019
"Well," Nunes says, with mock sadness, "I have some bad news for you. TV ratings are way down. Way down. Don't hold it personally—I don't think it's you guys. But whatever drug deal the Democrats are cooking up here on the dais, the American people aren't buying it."
(PS: You've seen the Nunes-as-a-cow thing on Twitter, right??)