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Volker: I 'cringe' when I hear 'three amigos'

The Hill logo The Hill 11/19/2019 Rebecca Klar
Kurt Volker in a suit and tie: Volker: I 'cringe' when I hear 'three amigos' © Greg Nash Volker: I 'cringe' when I hear 'three amigos'

Kurt Volker, former special envoy to Ukraine, dismissed the "three amigos" term that's been used to describe him, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in reference to dealings with Ukraine.

Instead, the former diplomat says that when he hears the expression, he thinks of another trio in American politics.

"I've never used that term and frankly cringe when I hear it because to me 'three amigos' will always refer to Sen. [John] McCain [R-Ariz.], Sen. [Joe] Lieberman [I-Conn.] and Sen. [Lindsey] Graham [R-S.C.] in reference to their work to support the surge in Iraq," Volker said during his opening statement Tuesday as part of his public testimony at the impeachment hearing.

"Moreover I was never aware of any designation by President Trump or anyone else putting Ambassador Sondland or the three of us as a group in charge of Ukraine policy," he added.

Volker said it was his understanding that each official continued to work in his "own respective official capacity" after attending Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration "to push for greater U.S. support for Ukraine."

"Leading the diplomacy around Ukraine negotiations had long been my official responsibility, but I welcomed the added support and influence of a Cabinet member and EU ambassador," Volker said.

Sondland is set to testify Wednesday as part of the ongoing probe into President Trump's communications with Ukraine.

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