WASHINGTON -- House Democratic investigators have not been solely focused on President Donald Trump allegedly pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival as they have questioned witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, a transcript of one of the closed-door depositions reveals.
As the Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees interviewed Kurt Volker, a former NATO ambassador who served the Trump administration in a volunteer capacity as a special representative to Ukraine, the questioning briefly devolved into Emoluments Clause territory.
The transcript of the Oct. 3 deposition -- the first that investigators conducted as part of the impeachment inquiry -- shows Daniel Noble, senior counsel for the Intelligence Committee Democrats, questioning why Volker and Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, had a breakfast meeting at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The question came up as Noble was asking whether Volker knew an associate of Giuliani's named Lev Parnas. Volker responded that Parnas is a Ukrainian American businessman that Giuliani brought to a breakfast meeting on July 19 between the two. Parnas and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, were arrested Oct. 10 and indicted on charges of trying to illegally funnel foreign money into U.S. elections.
"Never met him before or since," Volker said of Parnas, guessing that Giuliani had invited him to the meeting because he knows a lot about Ukraine since he's from there.
Noble then questions where the three had breakfast, to which Volker responds "at the Trump Hotel."
The answer appeared to raise alarm bells for Noble, who then probed further, with questions seemingly designed to elicit information that might further validate Democrats' concerns that Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by profiting off foreign and domestic officials who stay at and utilize his personal business properties.
"Why did you have breakfast at the Trump Hotel?" Noble asked.
"Because I was guessing that's where Rudy was going to be staying, so that would be the easiest thing to do," Volker responded.
Noble then referred back to a prior discussion about a meeting Volker had with Andriy Yermak, a close adviser to Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, asking where Yermak stayed while in Washington.