Fiona Hill’s Fiery Impeachment Testimony
“We are running out of time to stop them,” she said of the Russians. And then she addressed lawmakers again: “In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”
Hill’s testimony amounted to a remarkably direct rebuttal to House Republicans who have stood resolutely in support of Trump during the impeachment inquiry. And it drew a preemptive response from Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the committee. He addressed Hill’s remarks before she even delivered them, after her opening statement was given to reporters. He noted that Republicans, when they ran the Intelligence Committee, had acknowledged Russian interference in 2016 in a report they issued a year later. But he did not back down from the GOP’s claims that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats—which impeachment witnesses such as Ambassador Kurt Volker have labeled “conspiracy theories.”
“Needless to say, it is entirely possible for two separate nations to engage in election meddling at the same time, and Republicans believe we should take meddling seriously by all foreign countries, regardless of which campaign is the target,” Nunes said.
Hill did not name Republicans specifically during her opening statement, but she did when the committee’s Democratic chairman, Adam Schiff of California, asked her to elaborate. She emphasized “to the Republicans on the committee” that the Russians’ interest was to “delegitimize our entire presidency,” and that their efforts would have continued even if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election.
A veteran Russia expert and the co-author of a biography of Vladimir Putin, Hill served under John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser. She testified this morning alongside David Holmes, a staffer in the Ukrainian embassy who recounted in exhaustive detail a phone call he overheard between Trump and Ambassador Gordon Sondland, after which, Holmes said, Sondland said that the president cared only about “big stuff” like “the Biden investigation.”
Like previous witnesses, Hill began with her biography, noting her work for presidents from both parties. She said that she is “an American by choice” and grew up in the north of England, near where George Washington’s ancestors came from—a detail that explained her British accent. Both her testimony and that of Holmes are likely to prove damaging to the president’s case. They’ve filled in key details pointing to the existence of a quid pro quo, in which Trump demanded that Ukraine launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden before he would agree to meet with its new president and, subsequently, release $400 million in foreign aid to Kyiv.