Fiona Hill: Trump assigned diplomats in Ukraine for a 'domestic political errand'

Sondland gives his opening statement to the committee

Sondland gives his opening statement to the committee

Fiona Hill, a Russian Federation expert at the White House National Security Council until late July, detailed her frustration over the course of last spring and summer with Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union.

"He was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security, foreign policy", Hill said.

Her blunt assessment of the sexism and double standards that often arise when women express anger, struck a chord with women tuned into the hearing, many of whom immediately seized on the moment as a relatable and common experience. "And, you didn't embarrass Ambassador Sondland, you embarrassed Zelensky, because you know that he got asked that question in his own country, and people are hearing that statement as if it's true, and it's totally dubious of you to do that", he added.

Trump has told others testifying in the inquiry that Ukraine tried to "take me down" in the 2016 election and. "I've never seen anything like this in my foreign service career of someone at a lunch in a restaurant making a call on a cell phone to the president of the United States". I'm briefing chief of staff Mulvaney. I'm briefing Secretary Pompeo, and I've talked to ambassador Bolton. The president asked about the investigations of Democrats that he a day earlier told Zelenskiy he would consider "a favor", Sondland and Holmes said. Gen. William Barr about rumors that Biden as vice president had forced the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor widely viewed as corrupt in order to protect Hunter Biden. "He did not say 'Bidens, ' however, he just said 'Burisma'".

There was more: Sondland made it clear that Trump had expressly directed him and other US officials to work with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, who has agitated for a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens and who was Trump's emissary on the demand for a quid pro quo. Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman asked Hill about comments made by her boss, then-National Security Adviser John Bolton.

After the meeting, Hill said Bolton told her: "Rudy Giuliani is a hand grenade that is going to blow everyone up".

"Did you understand what he meant by that?"

"I have no interest in advancing the outcome of your inquiry in any particular direction, except toward the truth", Hill said. "I think that's where we are today".

Holmes also testified about his growing concern as Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, orchestrated Ukraine policy outside official diplomatic channels.

Hill, who became a USA citizen in 2002, told lawmakers she was the daughter of a coal miner in the northeast of England, noting it is the same region George Washington's ancestors came from.

"The goal of the Russians was really to put whoever became the president - by trying to tip their hands on one side of the scale - under a cloud", Hill said, answering questions from House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff on Thursday. "What we're seeing here, as a result of all of these narratives, is this is exactly what the Russian government was hoping for. If they seed misinformation, if they seed doubt, they have everybody questioning the legitimacy of a presidential candidate... that they would pit one part of our electorate against the other".

Hill, an accomplished scholar, was asked to explain an instance when she was "upset" with former U.N. Ambassador Gordon Sondland regarding the way things were going in Ukraine in June 2018. "The president's voice was loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume".

After the group meeting, Sondland - who had been pushing the Biden and 2016 investigations for Trump - met one-on-one behind closed doors with Andriy Yermak, a top aid to Zelenskyy.

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