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Fiona Hill said in impeachment inquiry that politicizing Ukraine policy was her "worst nightmare"

House releases more impeachment transcripts

President Trump's former Russia adviser, Fiona Hill explained to the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry what National Security Adviser John Bolton meant when he told her "you go and tell Eisenberg that I am not part of this drug deal that Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up."

She told lawmakers that "based on what had happened in the July 10th meeting and Ambassador Sondland blurting out that he'd already gotten agreement to have a meeting at the White House for Zelensky if these investigations were started up again, clearly Ambassador BoIton was referring directly to those." 

 Hill, the former senior director for Russia at the National Security Council (NSC), testified on October 14. The House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry released the transcript of her testimony, which is over 400 pages long, on Friday.

In her testimony, Hill said that Bolton closely monitored what President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was saying and doing regarding Ukraine. Bolton, in Hill's telling, "described Giuliani as a bit of a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up." And she said he "made it very clear that, you know, again, he didn't think anybody should be dealing with Giuliani."


Read the full transcript here.


US-POLITICS-IMPEACHMENT-TRUMP
Fiona Hill, former deputy assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council staff, leaves after reviewing transcripts of her deposition with the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees at the US Capitol on November 4, 2019 in Washington, DC.  GETTY IMAGES / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS

She and her superiors at the NSC worried that "Ukraine was going to be played by Giuliani in some way as part of the campaign."

At Bolton's request, Hill told NSC White House lawyer John Eisenberg that Mulvaney knew about a quid pro quo:  "Ambassador Sondland had basically indicated that there was an agreement with the Chief of Staff that they would have a White House meeting or, you know, a Presidential meeting if the Ukrainians started up these investigations again," she told the committees. 

Hill also told lawmakers that Mulvaney had placed the hold on Ukraine aid. He was subpoenaed to testify Friday but declined to appear.

According to Hill, Sondland told her that Mr. Trump put him "in charge of Ukraine" in June. When Sondland asserted to Hill that he was the U.S. lead for Ukraine, she recalled saying to him, "'No, you're not.'" She added, "I mean, sorry, it was kind of a bit of a rude retort because I was just so, what?'" 

She told Sondland, "'Well, we have Ambassador Taylor who's been sent out as Charge. Who says you're in charge of Ukraine?' It wasn't exactly the most diplomatic of responses on my part. And he said, 'the President.' And I was like, 'Oh.'"

Hill feels that Sondland is "clueless" and a counterintelligence risk. And she testified that Sondland would hand out her personal cell phone numbers to foreign officials.

"Ambassador Sondland would frequently give people my personal cell phone to call up and demand meetings with Ambassador BoIton or with me," Hill said.

What will public hearings in impeachment inquiry accomplish?

She also verified what Energy Secretary Rick Perry has said — that he was "unaware of any quid pro quo."

At times during her testimony, Hill expressed frustration with questions about whether certain Ukrainian officials were opposed to Mr. Trump, seemingly referring to the unproven theory that Ukraine hacked the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election.

"It is a fiction that the Ukrainian Government was launching an effort to upend our election, upend our election to mess with our Democratic systems," Hill told lawmakers. "If you're also trying to peddle an alternative variation of whether the Ukrainians subverted our election, I don't want to be part of that."

Trump administration officials have tried to disabuse Mr. Trump of this theory. Hill said that this line of questioning distracted from the issue of Russia's proven interference in American elections.

"I'm extremely concerned that this is a rabbit hole that we're all going to go down in between now and the 2020 election, and it will be to all of our detriment," Hill said.

"I just want to, if I've done anything, leave a message to you that we should all be greatly concerned about what the Russians intend to do in 2020. And any information that they can provide, you know, that basically deflects our attention away from what they did and what they're planning on doing is very useful to them," Hill said at another point.

Maggie Dore contributed to this report.

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