Accessibility links

Breaking News

Diplomat at Center of Trump Impeachment Inquiry Quits McCain Institute Directorship

FILE - Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine, leaves after a closed-door interview with House investigators as House Democrats proceed with the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 3, 2019.

Kurt Volker, the former special U.S. envoy to Ukraine and a key witness in the burgeoning impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives, has resigned from his post as executive director of a prestigious institute bearing the name of the deceased U.S. senator John McCain.

The Washington-based McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University announced the move Monday, saying Volker's resignation was voluntary.

"For the past seven and a half years, I have worked hard with Mrs. Cindy McCain, Arizona State University, and the McCain Institute's first rate team of Trustees and staff, to build an Institute dedicated to advancing character-driven leadership and making difference in the real world on a wide range of issues," Volker is quoted as saying in a press release.

"Today, I informed ASU President Crow and Mrs. McCain that I believe 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 of the McCain Institute for International Leadership."

Cindy McCain, widow the late senator, thanked for Volker for his years of service and "dedication to my husband and the entire McCain family."

"The Executive Committee of the Trustees has asked Fran Townsend to serve as Trustee Representative to the Institute to coordinate the transition to a new Executive Director," she said.

The announcement comes just four days after Volker testified before several House committees about his involvement in U.S. President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

Volker, who was appointed special envoy by former secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017, had an unusual arrangement with the State Department. As a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, Volker assumed the part-time, unpaid special envoy role, while maintaining his paid work as executive director of the McCain Institute.

This story originated in VOA's Ukrainian Service.