Trump aide Fiona Hill, who was ‘shocked’ by Ukraine call, to testify at impeachment hearing
WASHINGTON – David Holmes and Fiona Hill, two central witnesses to the pressure campaign in Ukraine, plan to testify publicly Thursday in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Hill, a former National Security Council official, previously testified about national security adviser John Bolton’s concerns about the pressure campaign.
Holmes, a State Department official in the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, overheard Trump ask U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland about “investigations” on a call.
The two are likely to shed additional light on key players and moments during the campaign to pressure Ukraine to open investigations into Trump’s political rivals.
What Hill has said
In her closed-door testimony on Oct. 14, Hill outlined key players in the campaign to pressure Ukraine to open investigations into Trump’s political rivals.
According to Hill, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s conduct was “comical” but “deeply concerning,” because, she said, he gave out her personal phone number and told officials to contact her and Bolton with no notice.
“It’s like basically driving along with no guardrails and no GPS on an unfamiliar territory,” Hill said, calling him a counterintelligence risk.
Timothy Morrison, Hill’s successor at the National Security Council, said Hill described Sondland to him as the “Gordon problem.”
She also described how concerned national security adviser John Bolton was by the linkage of aid and investigations. When Sondland brought up investigations up during a meeting between American and Ukrainian officials on July 10, Hill said he told her it was like a “drug deal” and urged her to brief National Security Council lawyers.
Hill said she was “shocked” by Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I sat in an awful lot of calls, and I have not seen anything like this. And I was there for two and a half years,” Hill said. “So I was just shocked.”
What Holmes has said
In his closed-door testimony on Nov. 15, Holmes shed light on a July 26 call between Trump and Sondland in which Trump asked him about the status of “investigations.”
Holmes told lawmakers and staff behind closed doors, “I then heard President Trump ask, ‘So, he’s gonna do the investigation?’ Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘he’s gonna do it,’ adding that President Zelensky will do ‘anything you ask him to.'”
During that conversation, Sondland told Trump that Zelensky “loves your a–” and would do “anything you ask him to” about investigations.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, someone calling the President from a mobile phone at a restaurant, and then having a conversation of this level of candor, colorful language,” Holmes said.
In his Wednesday testimony, Sondland said he did not dispute Holmes’ characterization of the call.
“That’s how President Trump and I communicate, a lot of four-letter words; in this case three-letter,” Sondland told lawmakers.
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