Monday, 11 November, 2019

Former Trump Russia Adviser Objected To Ukraine Ambassador's Firing

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Deanna Wagner | 15 October, 2019, 15:57

Fiona Hill, who worked as a top analyst on Russian Federation on the National Security Council staff until this summer, testified under subpoena for roughly 10 hours on Monday as part of an ongoing impeachment inquiry. A separate source said Hill also drew a link between Sondland and Trump in her testimony. Volker told lawmakers there was no quid pro quo involved in Trump's request to Zelensky.

Sondland, a political appointee and Trump political donor rather than a career diplomat, participated in a text message exchange with Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine.

Hill made the remarks as she testified for more than 10 hours in the Democratic inquiry, which is probing Trump's pleas to Ukrainian officials for investigations into political rival Joe Biden's family and into the country's involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

Democrats expect her to share her concerns about Mr Trump's involvement in the Ukraine scandal, including his ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Kiev Marie Yovanovitch, who testified to Congress last week.

Last week, the Times reported that Giuliani was himself under federal investigation for his dealings with Kiev on Trump's behalf. Mr Trump eventually allowed the aid. She had stepped down from her post days before the 25 July call at the heart of the ongoing impeachment proceedings.

By the time the call took place, Hill had left the National Security Council. "The effort to condition something the Ukrainian president deeply sought, that is, a meeting with the president, to establish this new president to the Ukraine had a powerful patron in the United States that was vital importance to Ukraine, that was being conditioned as digging up dirt on the Bidens".

According to Hill, she and Bolton left the meeting over concerns about what could be transpired then, and Bolton recommended her to discuss the matter with John Eisenberg, the National Security Council lawyer. She said that American policy toward Ukraine has become politicized and exposed partisan divisions that Putin is able to exploit.

An individual accustomed to Monday's behind-closed-doors testimony of Fiona Hill described her testimony to The Related Press.

"Rudy Giuliani has clearly been a leading force for the administration in defining a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine".

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Republicans slammed House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff for issuing the subpoena, accusing him of orchestrating a "stampede towards impeachment" that relies on "cherry-picked" information.

The GOP has been ratcheting up pressure on Democrats to hold public hearings, formally vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry - as has been done in the past - and release the transcripts of their closed-door briefings, accusing Democrats of trying to shroud their impeachment investigation in secrecy. He was asked to leave, he said, after a ruling by the parliamentarian.

As he menaced the person who exposed his possible wrongdoing, Mr Trump faced a potential setback with his former top Russian Federation advisor, Fiona Hill, sitting for an hours-long closed-door deposition before U.S. lawmakers.

The former adviser officially departed her role in August - though she had handed over most of her responsibilities in July - but was involved as Giuliani was making public pronouncements about Ukraine.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Both Yovanovitch and Hill received subpoenas the mornings of their testimony.

In the letter to attorney Lee Wolosky, White House Deputy Counsel Michael Purpura cited the doctrine of executive privilege, which is meant to protect communications between the president and close advisers to ensure candid, private advice.

Purpura also wrote that there is "no valid impeachment inquiry underway", which means that even if executive privilege operates differently with an impeachment inquiry, that doesn't apply here, according to the White House.

She's now on a leave of absence from the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., where she is the director for the Center on the United States and Europe.