Former White House official Fiona Hill told Thursday's impeachment hearing that a "fictional narrative" about Ukraine, driven by partisan politics, distracted President Trump from the real threat that Russia poses to America's democracy.

Why she matters: Hill, who left last summer as Trump's top adviser on Russia and Europe, gives House investigators a window into former national security adviser John Bolton's objections to Trump's Ukraine activities. In closed testimony last month, Hill said Bolton called Rudy Giuliani a "hand grenade that is going to blow everybody up."

In a brief opening statement, Hill emphasized that she believes it is her patriotic duty to answer the House Intelligence Committee's questions about what she saw and what she knows, according to a source familiar with her testimony.

  • Hill spoke about where she comes from: She is descended from generations of coal miners in the U.K., and her family’s love and respect for America is why she became an American citizen.
  • Hill, who has served under three different Republican and Democratic presidents, addressed why she has dedicated her career to being a nonpartisan foreign policy expert.

Between the lines: Republican aides working on impeachment have conceded to Axios that Hill was a damaging witness for Trump during her closed-door testimony.

  • While EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland had spoken directly with Trump about the investigations, Hill is the witness with the strongest ties to the West Wing.
  • She will shed light on key conversations with Bolton, and had a front seat to the politics of diplomacy with Ukraine.
  • And, as Trump’s top Russia adviser, she will likely drive home the importance of the aid for Ukraine, and how any crack in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship could be seen as a bolstering Russia.

Read Hill's opening statement.

Go deeper: The schedule for this week's impeachment hearings

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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Bob Woodward during a 2019 event in Los Angele. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Journalist Bob Woodward has obtained "25 personal letters exchanged" between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for his new book, "Rage," publisher Simon & Schuster revealed on Wednesday.

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A statue of Confederate States President Jefferson Davis lies on the street after protesters pulled it down in Richmond, Virginia, in June. Photo: Parker Michels-Boyce/AFP via Getty Images

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