Fri | Dec 6, 2019

Ambassador was on ‘political errand’ for Trump – aide

Published:Friday | November 22, 2019 | 12:34 AM
Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill (left) and David Holmes, a US diplomat in Ukraine, testified yesterday during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie US aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents in Washington.
Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill (left) and David Holmes, a US diplomat in Ukraine, testified yesterday during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie US aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents in Washington.

WASHINGTON (AP):

In riveting testimony, a former national security official testified yesterday that a United States ambassador clearly carried out a “domestic political errand” for President Donald Trump on Ukraine, undercutting a main line of the president’s defence in the impeachment inquiry.

Fiona Hill told House investigators she came to realise Ambassador Gordon Sondland wasn’t simply operating outside official diplomatic channels, as some assumed, but carrying out instructions from Trump,

“He was being involved in a domestic political errand. And we were being involved in national security policy,” she said after a blistering back-and-forth during questioning from Republicans at the House hearing.

“And here we are,” Hill said.

Testimony from Hill and David Holmes, a State Department adviser in Kyiv, capped an intense week in the historic inquiry and reinforced the central complaint: that Trump used foreign policy for political aims, setting off alarms across the US national security and foreign policy apparatus.

Democrats allege Trump was relying on the discredited idea that Ukraine, rather than Russia, interfered in the 2016 US election as he sought investigations in return for two things: US military aid that Ukraine needed to fend off Russian aggression, and a White House visit the new Ukrainian president wanted that would demonstrate his backing from the West.

One by one, Hill took on Trump’s defences.

She and Holmes both told House investigators it was abundantly clear Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was pursuing political investigations of Democrats and Joe Biden in Ukraine.

“He was clearly pushing forward issues and ideas that would, you know, probably come back to haunt us and, in fact,” Hill testified, “I think that’s where we are today.”