Former Ambassador Kurt Volker Resigns From ASU's McCain Institute

By Kathy Ritchie, Mark Brodie, Lauren Gilger
Associated Press
Published: Monday, October 7, 2019 - 8:38am
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2019 - 8:00am

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The head of Arizona State University's McCain Institute for International Leadership is resigning. Kurt Volker announced his departure Monday morning.

Volker was the executive director of the The McCain Institute for International Leadership at ASU. In a statement, Volker said the recent media focus on his work as a U.S. special envoy for Ukraine risks becoming a distraction to the institute.

He has also resigned his post at the State Department.

Last week, Volker testified before House lawmakers for 10 hours. He provided them with dozens of text messages between U.S. diplomats in Ukraine on how to handle a response to President Trump’s demands that the country investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son.

The McCain Institute is named for the late Sen. John McCain and oversees programs focused on national security, human trafficking and other issues.

McCain's widow Cindy says in a statement that she is thankful for Volker's hard work and dedication.

Washington Post senior political reporter Aaron Blake joined The Show to talk about this development. 

Statement by Ambassador Kurt Volker:
"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. Today, I informed ASU President Crow and Mrs. McCain that I believe the recent media focus on my work as the 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. I know the Institute is well equipped with a first rate team of staff and trustees to continue its progress in the future. I especially want to thank Cindy McCain and the McCain family for their selfless support of the institute."

Statement by Cindy McCain:
"I want to thank Kurt Volker for his dedication and hard work in helping to build the McCain Institute into the results-driven, action-oriented institution that it is today. We are proud of these accomplishments and I especially appreciate his 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. Senior Director for National Security and Counterterrorism Programs and Professor of Practice at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Nick Rasmussen has been asked by ASU leadership to serve as acting executive director pending selection of a new executive director. Rasmussen joined the Institute in May 2018 after a distinguished career in government service, working in senior national security positions under both Democratic and Republican administrations."

Statement by ASU:
"This morning, Kurt Volker resigned as the executive director of Arizona State University’s McCain Institute for International Leadership. ASU is grateful for his service guiding this important university initiative. Arizona State University president Michael Crow has appointed Nicholas Rasmussen as the acting executive director of the McCain Institute. Rasmussen currently serves as the senior director for national security and counterterrorism programs at the McCain Institute; he previously served as the director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center. Volker will be on paid administrative leave from his other university duties until further notice."

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