WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s former Russia adviser Fiona Hill will warn lawmakers in the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry on Thursday against promoting falsehoods that minimize Russia’s attempts to interfere in U.S. elections.
According to her prepared testimony, Hill said she has heard questions and statements from some members of the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee that show they appear to believe Russia did not conduct a campaign against the United States during the 2016 presidential race.
“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” Hill, who was until July the director for European and Russian Affairs at the White House National Security Council, will say.
Some Republican members of the committee have advanced a discredited conspiracy theory, embraced by Republican President Trump, that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the last presidential election.
“In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” she will say.
Thursday’s hearing marks the last scheduled day of marathon sessions by the House Intelligence Committee focused on whether Trump wrongfully pressured Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat bidding to face Trump in 2020.
Lawmakers also will question David Holmes, a staffer from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, as they seek to learn more about a phone call in which he says he overheard Trump ask about the status of the investigation.
Hill also will warn lawmakers that Russia is gearing up to repeat its election interference activities in 2020.
“We are running out of time to stop them,” she will say.
Like a number of career government officials who have already testified, Hill prides herself as a nonpartisan foreign policy expert who has served Republican and Democratic presidents. A naturalized U.S. citizen, Hill describes herself as an “American by choice,” tracing her poor family’s roots to the same area of England as George Washington.
In prior testimony on Oct. 14, Hill recounted a July 10 meeting at the White House that she attended with senior Ukrainian and U.S. officials at which the investigation was discussed.
Hill recalled a meeting between U.S. and Ukrainian officials that national security adviser John Bolton cut short after Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, blurted out that there was an agreement for a White House meeting if Ukraine started certain investigations.
Holmes, meanwhile, told lawmakers in closed-door testimony that he heard Trump’s voice on a July 26 phone call with Sondland in which Trump asked about Ukraine’s willingness to carry out an unspecified investigation.
“So, he’s gonna do the investigation?” Trump asked Sondland, referring to Zelenskiy, according to Holmes’ previous testimony.
“He’s gonna do it,” replied Sondland, according to Holmes.
Sondland added the Ukrainian president would do “anything you ask him to,” Holmes said.
Holmes’ account ties Trump directly to an effort to get Ukraine to launch an investigation, though his recounting of the overheard telephone call does not explicitly cite the Bidens.
Trump has denied wrongdoing, verbally assailed witnesses, and described the impeachment proceedings as a “witch hunt.” He also says he does not remember the call with Sondland.
U.S. intelligence agencies and former Special Counsel Robert Mueller have determined that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential race with a campaign of hacking and propaganda intended to sow discord in the United States, boost Trump’s candidacy and harm his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.