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 VolkerPush to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Senate confirms Brouillette to replace Perry as Energy secretary How Democrats' missing witnesses could fill in the Ukraine story 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 McCainEx-Rep. Scott Taylor to seek old Virginia seat Man acquitted over tweet offering 0 to killing an ICE agent Lessons of the Kamala Harris campaign 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 TrumpSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate US sending 20,000 troops to Europe for largest exercises since Cold War Barr criticizes FBI, says it's possible agents acted in 'bad faith' in Trump probe MORE.

Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on a July 25 call to "look into" Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenThe media have fallen out of love with Bernie, but have voters? Top Zelensky aide refutes Sondland testimony The great AI debate: What candidates are (finally) saying about artificial intelligence MORE and his son and to get in touch with his personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today Controversy on phone records intensifies amid impeachment Tempers flare at tense Judiciary hearing on impeachment MORE and Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBarr criticizes FBI, says it's possible agents acted in 'bad faith' in Trump probe Barr: 'I haven't looked into' whether Ukraine meddled in 2016 election Facebook tells Trump administration it will not create messaging 'backdoor' for law enforcement 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.