Fiona Hill, a former senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council, testified on Monday in a closed-door hearing about President Donald Trump’s handing of American foreign policy toward Ukraine.
Hill was reportedly expected to tell House investigators from three panels involved in the ongoing impeachment inquiry about how Trump and his lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, shaped American foreign policy toward Ukraine in order to have the country investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, according to The Washington Post.
Hill has worked closely with two diplomats who are involved in the impeachment controversy. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified last week that Giuliani had her removed from her position because she was viewed as a threat to their financial and political interests. She told the committee that she had “done nothing wrong” and that she was fired because she had openly criticized both Giuliani and the office of Yuriy Lutsenko, then Ukraine’s prosecutor general. She also noted that Lutsenko’s claim that she had given him a “do not prosecute” list was false, and that Lutsenko himself had walked it back.
Hill also worked with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Sondland is expected to testify on Thursday about a text message in which he seemed to deny that Trump had tried to get Ukraine to investigate the former vice president’s son in return for foreign aide. It is reported that Sondland will say that the text message was given to him directly by Trump in a phone call and he has no direct knowledge of whether it’s accurate.
Hill was also reportedly expected to tell the three panels that Giuliani and Sondland actively avoided both her and the National Security Council process and directed policy toward Ukraine on their own, according to CBS News. It is unclear how, or if, this will be connected to the whistleblower complaint at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. The complaint revealed that during a July 25 phone with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate whether Joe Biden had pushed for the resignation of top prosecutor Viktor Shokin to protect his son Hunter Biden from supposed corruption charges (there is no evidence that Hunter Biden had ever been accused of wrongdoing). Notes from the Trump-Zelensky conversation also suggested that Trump may have linked providing Ukraine with military aid and equipment from the United States to the government’s assistance in the requested “favor.”
In related news, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., was forced to leave the Hill deposition after he attempted to crash the hearings, according to The Hill. Although Gaetz is on the House Judiciary Committee, that committee was not among those participating in the Hill hearings (those included Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs). House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., asked Gaetz to leave, a decision that was ultimately supported by the House parliamentarian.
“I went into the committee room and Mr. Schiff told me I had to leave. And we waited for a ruling from the parliamentarian. And at that time, I had to depart,” Gaetz told reporters in the Capitol. He later told reporters, “This morning we see further evidence that Adam Schiff’s clown show of an impeachment proceeding continues.”