In the Trump administration, the modus operandi seems to be that when the going gets tough, throw one another under the bus.
Donald Trump threw Vice President Mike Pence under the bus after a description of his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was publicly reported. Rudy Giuliani threw all kinds of people under the bus, including U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, who resigned on Friday.
Giuliani, who is one of the operatives at the center of the whistleblower complaint that prompted a formal impeachment inquiry of Trump, first outed Volker on Twitter on Thursday, after the complaint was made public. It was an attempt by the president’s personal lawyer to claim that his meetings with Ukrainian officials, in which Giuliani pressured them to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, were prompted by the State Department.
Later that day, Giuliani appeared on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle to fire off more shots, sealing Volker’s fate without vindicating himself, oddly.
“He should step forward and explain what he did,” the former New York City mayor said. “The whistleblower falsely alleges that I was operating on my own. Well, I wasn’t operating on my own. I went to meet Mr. Zelensky’s aide at the request of the State Department.”
The Arizona State University newspaper, The State Press, broke the news on Friday that Volker had submitted his resignation to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
According to the whistleblower complaint, a day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky, in which the president sought help in smearing a leading Democratic rival in the 2020 election, Volker met with Zelensky, along with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.
“Based on multiple readouts of these meetings recounted to me by various U.S. officials, Ambassadors Volker and Sondland reportedly provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to ‘navigate’ the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelenskyy,” the whistleblower complaint stated.
Giuliani also reportedly met with an adviser to Zelensky, Andriy Yermak, in Spain, and had reached out to several other Ukrainian officials after Trump told Zelensky in the phone conversation that Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General William Barr would be point men on Trump’s alleged extortion effort. Barr has denied any involvement.
Also on Friday, the leaders of the House committees on foreign affairs, intelligence, and oversight sent a letter to Pompeo announcing a subpoena for several documents related to the Ukraine scandal. The committees had requested the documents on Sept. 9 and issued a deadline of one week, which Pompeo appears to have ignored. In the new letter, the lawmakers warn that Pompeo’s “failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry.”
It’s clear that Pompeo has many questions to answer about the State Department’s role in all of this and probably other shenanigans. That was apparent at least a week ago, when Pompeo and Trump weren’t even on the same page about whether to publicly release a summary of the Zelensky phone call.
The dominoes are starting fall, and the most intriguing part is that it’s Trump’s own cronies who are pushing them over. Let’s see what Volker has to say for himself.