Volker steps down as head of McCain Institute, citing Ukraine controversy

Volker steps down as head of McCain Institute, citing Ukraine controversy
© Greg Nash

Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerGOP lawmaker: Democrats cherry-picking what to leak in impeachment inquiry In testimony, Dems see an ambassador scorned, while GOP defends Trump Cracks emerge in White House strategy as witness testifies MORE, the Trump administration's former special envoy to Ukraine, on Monday announced his resignation as leader of the McCain Institute for International Leadership amid the furor over his role in efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Biden family.

In a statement, Volker said he felt "the recent media focus on my work as U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations risks becoming a distraction from the accomplishments and continued growth of the Institute, and therefore I am stepping down as Executive Director." 

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Volker spent the last seven years working for the institute, which is a Washington-based think tank that functions in coordination with Arizona State University.

Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainVideo of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Remembering leaders who put country above party Graham-Trump rollercoaster hits dizzying speed MORE (R-Ariz.), thanked Volker for his work at the institute and "his dedication to my husband and the entire McCain family." She said former National Counterterrorism Center Director Nick Rasmussen will take over as the acting executive director.

The New York Times reported last week that Volker was expected to step down as he emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine scandal that triggered a formal impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE.

Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on a July 25 call to "look into" Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage Schiff: Whistleblower testimony might not be necessary Trump warns Democrats will lose House seats over impeachment MORE and his son and to get in touch with his personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiRand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter Sunday shows — Officials rush to Trump's defense on Syria, sanctions Cruz: 'Of course' it's not appropriate to ask China to investigate Bidens MORE and Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBarr bemoans 'moral upheaval' that has brought 'suffering and misery' Trump threatens to sue Schiff and Pelosi Democratic lawmaker says Barr's reported meeting with Murdoch should be investigated MORE on the matter.

Text messages released by House Democrats last week showed that Volker had indicated to one of Zelensky's aides that a visit to the White House was contingent on Ukraine carrying out the investigations Trump sought related to the Bidens and the 2016 election.

In a deposition with House lawmakers, Volker sought to distance himself from the efforts to investigate Biden. He defended the former vice president's character and blamed Giuliani for convincing Trump that the unsubstantiated corruption allegations against the Bidens were worth pursuing.