Updated Nov 21, 2019

Fiona Hill warns of "fictional narrative" on Ukraine in testimony

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

Go deeper

Highlights from Fiona Hill's and David Holmes' impeachment testimonies

Photo: Matt McClain/Pool/Getty Images

Fiona Hill, President Trump's former top Russia adviser, and David Holmes, a State Department official at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, testified in Thursday's impeachment hearing.

Driving the news: Hill testified she had a conflict with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland over his claim that he was working on Ukraine policy at Trump's direction — to pursue what she termed a "domestic political errand."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 21, 2019

The highlights from all of the public impeachment hearings

The view before Marie Yovanovitch's impeachment hearing. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House Intelligence Committee wrapped up on Thursday its planned schedule of public testimony in its impeachment inquiry, holding seven hearings with 12 witnesses over the past two weeks.

The big picture: The committee heard hours of testimony from witnesses who were both working on the ground in Ukraine and within the Trump administration at the time of the alleged White House pressure campaign against the Ukrainian government to secure an investigation into the Biden family's business dealings.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 22, 2019

Hill says she told Sondland that Ukraine policy was "all going to blow up"

Fiona Hill, President Trump's former top Russia expert, testified during Thursday's impeachment hearing that she told EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland earlier this year that the Trump administration's policy on Ukraine was "all going to blow up."

The big picture: Hill illustrated a dual-track policy that "diverged" seemingly at Trump's direction. According to her testimony, 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 deeperArrowNov 21, 2019