Nov 21, 2019

Fiona Hill: It is "not credible" Sondland didn't make Biden-Burisma connection

Former White House top Russia adviser Fiona Hill testified Thursday that it is "not credible" that EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland did not understand that the investigation President Trump was pushing for into Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma was equivalent to an investigation of the Bidens.

The exchange:

REP. MALONEY: "I thought you said it was obvious to you. Excuse me."
HILL: "It was obvious to me, correct."
MALONEY: "It was obvious Burisma meant Bidens."
HILL: "Yes, it was."
MALONEY: "You treated that as an easy thing to understand. Mr. Morrison figured it out with a single Google search. Is it credible to you that Mr. Sondland was completely in the dark about this all summer?  I mean you had an argument about it."
HILL: "It is not credible to me that he was oblivious."

Why it matters: Sondland and former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker both testified that they did not understand the Burisma investigation to be related to the Bidens until September, when the White House released the transcript of a phone call showing Trump discussed the Bidens with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

  • This is in spite of the fact that Rudy Giuliani was frequently tweeted and appearing on Fox News to push allegations about the Bidens and Burisma.
  • Sondland and Volker both said that if they had known Trump was pushing for an investigation of his domestic political rival, they would have objected.

The big picture: One of the main takeaways from Hill's testimonies is that she had a conflict with Sondland over his claim that he was working on Ukraine policy at Trump's direction.

  • Hill testified that Sondland claimed to be reporting directly to the president and other senior White House officials to pursue a "domestic political errand" — investigations linked to the Biden family's business dealings in Ukraine — while National Security Council staff focused on traditional foreign policy.

Go deeper: More highlights from Hill's and David Holmes' testimony

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Autopsies say George Floyd's death was homicide

Police watch as demonstrators block a roadway while protesting the death of George Floyd in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Preliminary results from an independent autopsy commissioned by George Floyd's family found that his death in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to a statement from the family's attorney.

The latest: An updated official autopsy released by the Hennepin County medical examiner also determined that the manner of Floyd's death was "homicide," ruling it was caused by "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdued, restraint, and neck compression."

The Biden-Trump split screen

Photos via Getty Images: Jim Watson/AFP (L); Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency (R)

The differences between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump are plain as day as the two respond to recent protests.

Why it matters: Americans are seeing firsthand how each presidential nominee responds to a national crisis happening during a global pandemic.

Louisville police chief fired after body cameras found inactive in shooting of black man

Louisville police officers during protests. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer fired the city's chief of police Steve Conrad after it was discovered that police officers had not activated their body cameras during the shooting of David McAtee, a local black business owner who was killed during protests early Monday morning.

Why it matters: Mandatory body camera policies have proven to be important in efforts to hold police officers accountable for excessive force against civilians and other misconduct. Those policies are under even greater scrutiny as the nation has erupted in protest over the killing of black people at the hands of police.