Mr. Volker expressed annoyance at being lumped together with Mr. Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry as “three amigos,” as if they were somehow indistinguishable, and he rejected the notion that he was part of an irregular foreign policy channel.
The term “three amigos” has come to characterize how the usual foreign policy process was warped by Mr. Trump’s interest in obtaining damaging information about Democrats from Ukraine. It originated from an interview Mr. Sondland gave to Ukrainian television when he said “we have what are called the three amigos,” naming Mr. Volker, Mr. Perry and himself.
Mr. Volker in his testimony objected to the name and the implication. “I never used that term and frankly cringe when I hear it,” he said. In his mind, he said, he associated the phrase with his mentor, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who died last year, and two allies who supported a troop surge in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, who has since left the Senate.
Mr. Volker said he was not part of a shadow foreign policy because he was the officially designated diplomat assigned to help resolve Ukraine’s war with Russia. “My role was not some irregular channel, but the official channel,” he said, noting that he reported to Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state who appointed him, and Mike Pompeo, his successor, and coordinated with diplomats and White House officials.
Democrats expressed outrage at the attacks on Vindman by the White House and Republicans.
Democratic lawmakers responded angrily to attacks on Colonel Vindman, who testified during the morning session, as the White House and Republicans sought to discredit the colonel in real time during his appearance before the committee.
“There’s been a lot of insinuations and there’s been a lot suggestions, maybe, that your service is somehow not to be trusted,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York. He accused Republicans of trying to “air out some allegations with no basis and proof, but they just want to get them out there and hope maybe some of those strands of spaghetti I guess will stick on the wall if they keep throwing them.”
His angry remarks came after the official, taxpayer-funded Twitter account of the White House posted a critical quote about Colonel Vindman from Timothy Morrison, his former boss at the National Security Council, who testified later in the day on a separate panel.