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Friday, January 15, 2021

Highlights from Fiona Hill and David Holmes’s Impeachment-Hearing Testimonies

Credit: The New Yorker
Duration: 06:18s 0 shares 1 views
Highlights from Fiona Hill and David Holmes’s Impeachment-Hearing Testimonies
Highlights from Fiona Hill and David Holmes’s Impeachment-Hearing Testimonies

Trump’s former top Russia adviser and an official at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine testified in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Here are the highlights from Thursday.

[ringing electronic tones][tense synthesizer music][cameras snapping]- [Adam] Do you swear oraffirm that the testimonyyou're about to give isthe truth, the whole truth,and nothing but thetruth, so help you God?- Based on questions andstatements I have heard,some of you on thiscommittee appear to believethat Russia and its security servicesdid not conduct a campaignagainst our country,and that perhaps, somehow,for some reason, Ukraine did.This is a fictional narrativethat has been perpetratedand propagated by the Russiansecurity services themselves.The unfortunate truth is thatRussia was the foreign powerthat systematically attackedour democratic institutions in 2016.In the course of this investigation,I would ask that you please not promotepolitically-deriven falsehoodsthat so clearly advance Russian interests.As Republicans and Democratshave agreed for decades,Ukraine is a valued partnerof the United States,and it plays an importantrole in our national security,and as I told the committee last month,I refuse to be part of an effortto legitimize an alternate narrativethat the Ukrainian governmentis a U.S. adversaryand that Ukraine, notRussia, attacked us in 2016.- Beginning in March 2019,the situation at the embassyand in Ukraine changed dramatically.Specifically, the threepriorities of security,economy, and justice and our supportfor Ukrainian democraticresistance to Russian aggressionbecame overshadowed by a political agendapromoted by former New YorkCity Mayor Rudy Giulianiand a cadre of officials operatingwith a direct channel to the White House.Given the history of assistance to Ukraineand the bipartisanrecognition of its importance,I was shocked when, on July 18th,an Office of Managementand Budget staff membersurprisingly announced the holdon Ukraine security assistance.My clear impression was thatthe security assistance holdwas likely intended by the presidenteither as an expression of dissatisfactionwith the Ukrainians,who had not yet agreedto the Burisma-Biden investigation,or as an effort to increasethe pressure on them to do so.The four of us went to a nearby restaurantand sat on an outdoor terrace.I sat directly acrossfrom Ambassador Sondland,and the two staffers sat off to our sides.During the lunch, Ambassador Sondland saidthat he was gonna call President Trumpto give him an update.While Ambassador Sondland'sphone was not on speakerphone,I could hear the president's voicethrough the earpiece of the phone.The president's voice wasloud and recognizable,and Ambassador Sondland held the phoneaway from his ear for a period of timepresumably because of the loud volume.I heard Ambassador Sondlandgreet the presidentand explained he was calling from Kyiv.I heard President Trump then clarifythat Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine.Ambassador Sondland replied,yes, he was in Ukraine,and went on to statethat President Zelensky,quote, "loves your ass."I then heard President Trump ask,"So, he's going to do the investigation?"Ambassador Sondland repliedthat he's gonna do it,adding that President Zelenskywill do anything you ask him to do.I then took the opportunityto ask Ambassador Sondlandfor his candid impressionof the president's views on Ukraine.In particular, I asked Ambassador Sondlandif it was true that the presidentdid not a, expletive, about Ukraine.Ambassador Sondlandagreed that the presidentdid not an, expletive, about Ukraine.I asked why not.Ambassador Sondlandstated that the presidentonly cares about big stuff.I noted there was bigstuff going on in Ukraine,like a war with Russia,and Ambassador Sondlandreplied that he meant big stuffthat benefits the president,like the Biden investigationthat Mr. Giuliani was pushing.- I've actually realized havinglistened to his depositionthat he was absolutely right,that he wasn't coordinating with usbecause we weren't doing thesame thing that he was doing,so I was upset with him thathe wasn't fully telling usabout all of the meetingsthat he was having,and he said to me, "ButI'm briefing the president."I'm briefing Chief of Staff Mulvaney,"I'm briefing Secretary Pompeo,"and I've talked to Ambassador Bolton."Who else do I have to deal with?"And the point is we have arobust inter-agency processthat deals with Ukraine.It includes Mr. Holmes, itincludes Ambassador Tayloras the charge in Ukraine.It includes a whole load of other people,but it struck me when, yesterday,when you put upon the screenAmbassador Sondland's emailsand who was on these emails,and he said these are thepeople who need to knowbecause he was being involvedin a domestic political errand,and we were being involvedin national security foreign policy,and those two things had just diverged,so he was correct, and I hadnot put my finger on thatat the moment, but Iwas irritated with himand angry with him that hewasn't fully coordinating,and I did say to him,Ambassador Sondland, Gordon,I think this is all goingto blow up, and here we are.- Nowhere is there a Holmes tells Taylorwhat the President of theUnited States told Sondland.- May I answer that question?- 13 conversations.- [Jim] Yeah, I'll get toya, I'll give ya a chancehere in a second, but 13 conversations,13 conversations from their star witness.You're their closing witness,and he can't remember a callfrom a guy he works with every single day?Why?- I refer to the call,and everyone is nodding.Of course, that's what's going on.Of course, the president is pressingfor a Biden investigationbefore he'll do thesethings the Ukrainians want.There was nodding agreement,so did I go through everysingle word in the call?No, because everyone,by that point, agreed.It was obvious what thepresident was pressing for,and Ambassador Taylor,as you've just outlined,had all those other interactionswith all these other people.- You didn't share it with us.- [Adam] Mr. Jordan,please do not interrupt.- But, sir, sir,[Jim stammering]but sir, my vivid recollection of an eventI was involved with wasa touchstone experiencethat, to me, validated what,[Jim muttering]sir, if I could,- Mr. Jordan, please.- Do not interrupt.- What we believed.


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