Ex-Trump aide to tell Congress she objected to Ukrainian ambassador's removal: report

A former top aide to President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE on European and Russian affairs has arrived on Capitol Hill to testify before Congress, where she is expected to detail a “shadow foreign policy” pursued by Trump's personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump: Tough times but progress being made Giuliani touts experimental coronavirus treatment in private conversations with Trump Trump team picks fight with Twitter, TV networks over political speech MORE and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.

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Fiona Hill, a former special assistant to the president, on Monday is set to testify that Sondland and Giuliani went around the National Security Council and official White House protocol to speak directly with Trump about Ukraine, NBC reported last week.

Hill’s attorney, Lee Wolosky, confirmed that his client had received a subpoena and intended to answer questioning from members beginning at 10 a.m. She is the first former White House official to agree to cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry.

 

Hill will also reportedly testify that she strenuously objected to the removal of former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, but that her input was disregarded, according to The New York Times.

Hill entered the secured meeting room in the Capitol basement at roughly 9 a.m., an hour before the deposition was scheduled to begin. She declined reporters' requests for comment.

Republican leaders were more talkative ahead of the hearing.

Reps. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Sanders: 'Unfair to simply say everything is bad' in Cuba under Castro Trump allies blast Romney over impeachment vote: 'A sore loser' MORE (R-N.Y.), Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryTop conservatives pen letter to Trump with concerns on fourth coronavirus relief bill House Republicans press Trump officials on plans to contain coronavirus at border DCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements MORE (R-Pa.), and Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTop conservatives pen letter to Trump with concerns on fourth coronavirus relief bill Justice IG pours fuel on looming fight over FISA court The relief bill and public broadcasting: A missed opportunity MORE (Ohio), senior Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, spoke with reporters on their way into the room, accusing Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Schiff calls on DNI Grenell to explain intelligence community changes READ: Schiff plans to investigate Trump firing intel watchdog MORE (D-Calif.) of conducting an underhanded process by releasing only selected portions of testimony from previous witnesses.

"The tragedy here — the crime here — is that the American people don't get to see what's going on in these sessions," Jordan said of the closed-door session.

The Republicans, in particular, are keen on making public the transcript of the Oct. 3 testimony of Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerGOP senators request details on Hunter Biden's travel for probe Yovanovitch retires from State Department: reports Live coverage: Senators enter second day of questions in impeachment trial MORE, the administration's former special envoy to Ukraine, who appeared before the committees on Oct. 3.

"He said there was no quid pro quo whatsoever, this process that played out is the typical diplomatic process that plays out when the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people are going to foreign governments," Jordan said.

Trump and his Republican allies are demanding a vote on the House floor to launch an impeachment inquiry formally — a step that preceded the last two impeachment processes, targeting Presidents Nixon and Clinton. They're protesting that, as the minority party, they're denied certain powers, such as the right to call witnesses themselves.

"If the House Democrats want to pursue impeachment, they should put their money where their mouth is and have a vote," said Zeldin.

Asked which witnesses Republicans would like to hear from, Zeldin did not name names, lamenting that many of the figures cited in documents and testimony are anonymous.

"We just want facts," he said.

Unlike Volker, Hill will reportedly not present any documents or communications, as she left them behind when she left the White House, according to the Times.

Sondland himself is set to testify Thursday and will reportedly say that a text message in which he said there was “no quid pro quo” conditioning military aid to Ukraine on an investigation of former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump shakes up WH communications team The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic The Intercept's Ryan Grim says Cuomo is winning over critics MORE’s family was dictated by Trump himself and that Sondland was uncertain of its accuracy.

The July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is at the heart of a whistleblower complaint that prompted the House to announce an impeachment inquiry into Trump last month.

Updated at 10:35 a.m.