Five Key Ukraine Players Have Resigned Since Trump Scandal Broke in September

Testimony from National Security Council officials about President Donald Trump's Ukraine scandal is piling up, with House Democrats this week releasing more transcripts from closed-door impeachment investigation depositions with those who worked on America's Ukraine strategy.

The transcripts have thus far generally depicted the chaotic nature of the White House's Ukraine outreach, with the president allowing personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to drive a parallel strategy in which he circumvented or co-opted State Department and national security staff.

Several high-level officials have described their discomfort with the operation, with some fearing the approach could damage relations between Washington and Kiev and undermine U.S. national security.

Though the president and his most loyal supporters are still dismissing the impeachment investigation and its premise, much of the testimony released so far has been damning for Trump.

Five officials who dealt with Ukraine have resigned since September, when the whistleblower complaint about Trump's July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy became public knowledge, The New York Times reported.

Just days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment investigation into the president, special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker resigned from his position. Volker stepped down hours after being informed he would be called to give a deposition to House committees investigating the Ukraine call.

Volker told investigators that Trump had a "very deeply rooted negative view of Ukraine based on past corruption," a perception fortified by conversations with Giuliani.

Volker's testimony also showed the president believed a conspiracy theory suggesting the Ukrainian government tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election to undermine Trump's chances of winning.

Volker told lawmakers he could find no reason for the delay to hundreds of millions in military aid earmarked for Kiev, which Trump is accused of freezing to push Zelenskiy to open an investigation into corruption allegations against possible 2020 rival Joe Biden.

Like Volker, Tim Morrison—the National Security Council's Russia and Europe director—stepped down from his role days before testifying to House investigators.

Morrison told investigators that although he saw nothing illegal about the Trump-Zelensky call, he was also worried it would leak and that its contents could create negative fall-out.

Morrison corroborated reports that Trump was pushing for an investigation into Biden in exchange for releasing military aid, and said former White House official Fiona Hill advised him to steer clear of Giuliani's parallel Ukraine policy.

Earl Matthews, another senior National Security Council official who was present at several meetings now being investigated by House Democrats, has also left his position.

Matthews worked closely with former National Security Advisor John Bolton, traveling to Ukraine and Poland where he took part in a meeting between Zelenskiy and senior American officials. It is not clear whether Matthews' resignation was directly linked to the Ukraine scandal.

Michael McKinley, a top adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, resigned in October over the Trump administration's treatment of former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

McKinley told House committees last month he stepped down over "what appears to be the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance domestic political objectives."

Yovanovitch also testified, telling lawmakers she was the victim of a smear campaign led by Giuliani before being abruptly recalled to Washington and fired in May.

McKinley told House committees he was "disturbed" by the implications of the July Trump-Zelensky phone call, which indicated that "foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is the most prominent official to have announced his resignation in connection with the Ukraine scandal, committing to stepping down by the end of this year.

Perry was one of the so-called "three amigos"—along with Volker and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland—who managed the White House's Ukraine policy. Perry has denied any suggestion that Biden's name came up during conversations with the Ukrainian government.

Perry's resignation had been expected for some time, though reports suggested his involvement with the Ukraine scandal may have sped up his departure plans.

According to Axios, Trump told House Republicans that the July phone call with Zelenskiy was Perry's idea, and that he didn't even want to make it.

Kurt Volker, Ukraine, Resign, Donald Trump, scandal
Former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker departs following a closed-door deposition led by the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill on October 3, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Zach Gibson/Getty Images/Getty