Conflicting reports surround Kurt Volker's role at the McCain Institute

After outlets reported he would resign Friday, two University officials said Volker intends to stay in his role

Despite reports Friday afternoon that McCain Institute Executive Director Kurt Volker will be immediately stepping down from his role, two University officials told The State Press he has no plans to do so. 

The University officials contradict reports by The New York Times, CNN and other outlets that said Volker would be resigning on Friday. The conflicting reports are just another twist in the constantly developing story line that is Volker's tie within the Trump-Ukraine controversy. 

Volker himself confirmed that he is not stepping down from his role at the institute in a comment to The Arizona Republic.

One University official said that Volker wants to keep his role, but he does understand there are people above him who could choose to cut ties. The official said Volker had a meeting with multiple University officials where Volker said he hopes to stay at ASU.  

"We have nothing to announce," ASU spokesperson Bret Hovell said in a text message to The State Press. "Kurt Volker is the executive director of the McCain Institute."

A trustee of the McCain Institute also said there has been, “no communication whatsoever (with the trustees) regarding anything about resignation” and that not many people will be "too in the know" when it comes to Volker's role at the institute.

Although officials said he is not resigning today, he could resign in the near future. He could also be removed from the University if it decides to do so. 

The trustee said that Volker was "totally dedicated in his role as executive director, a totally dedicated representative of the McCain Institute with tremendous access to people from his previous roles in government," and that there are issues that need to be addressed, and Volker will do his best to discuss and explain the situations at hand.

"Knowing Kurt as I do, he handled them honorably and the best that he could ... few people could have done better," the trustee said, adding that the situation is "very difficult" and the result of the current geopolitical climate.

"There's a lot of reason for people to want to find blame and shame ... (Volker) deserves tremendous respect from all the people involved and I hope that's what he gets," the trustee said.

Volker declined to comment to Cronkite News in Washington D.C. Friday, telling the reporter he needed to attend his wedding rehearsal. The Times also reported that the McCain Institute board had been unhappy with Volker and his level of transparency on the Ukraine issue and pressured him to resign.

But board members for the McCain Institute have shown their support for Volker throughout the week to different news outlets and a spokesperson for the McCain Institute told The State Press Wednesday that Volker is "very much our executive director."

Volker left his role as a special envoy for Ukraine last Friday and testified before three House Committees Thursday on his involvement with the Trump-Ukraine dealings.

He made international headlines this week after his name surfaced as part of the whistleblower complaint and is said to have helped Ukrainian officials "navigate" President Donald Trump's demands, including Trump's request for Ukraine to find dirt on one of the president's opponents, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Volker released numerous text messages between U.S. and Ukrainian officials after his deposition before three closed-door House committees. 

Volker has been with the institute since its inception in 2012. 

A spokesperson for The Times said they could not comment on sourcing and directed The State Press to reach out to their reporter. 

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 1:58 p.m. to add an attribution to a statement previously provided by a "University official" and to include Volker's confirmation to The Arizona Republic. This story was updated at 1:47 p.m. to reflect comment from The Times. This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information becomes available.


Reach the reporters at adunn11@asu.edu and ajhowar6@asu.edu and follow @adrienne_dunn and @andrew_howard4 on Twitter.

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