Hill says Trump officials were involved in a 'domestic political errand' in Ukraine

Hill says Trump officials were involved in a 'domestic political errand' in Ukraine
© Greg Nash

Former White House national security official Fiona Hill said Thursday the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and other Trump administration officials were running a “domestic political errand” by pursuing investigations that could help President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE politically.

Hill, a top Russia expert on the National Security Council who resigned from her post over the summer, described in public testimony in the House impeachment inquiry dueling tracks of U.S. policy. She said she angrily confronted Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandSenate rejects subpoenaing Mulvaney to testify in impeachment trial The Memo: Day One shows conflicting narratives on impeachment GOP rejects effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid MORE, the U.S. ambassador to the EU, during her last week on the job because he wasn’t coordinating with her team on Ukraine policy.  

“What I was angry about was he wasn’t coordinating with us,” Hill testified Thursday. “He wasn’t coordinating with us because we weren’t doing the same thing that he was doing.”

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Hill said that at the time Sondland told her he was speaking to Trump, White House acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyWhat to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Biden says he would not engage in witness swap in impeachment trial Schumer blasts GOP votes over witnesses, documents at trial MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Overnight Defense: Trump downplays troops' concussion injuries in Iran attack | Dems offer case against Trump on day two of trial | UN links Saudis to hack of Bezos' phone Pompeo willing to testify in impeachment trial if 'legally required' MORE. He indicated that he didn’t need to coordinate with others, she said.

Hill said it came full circle for her Wednesday, as emails Sondland provided to impeachment investigators were made public. She testified that it was clear Sondland was involved in “a domestic political errand” that diverged with the policy track pursued by the National Security Council.

“He was being involved in a domestic political errand. and we were being involved in national security foreign policy,” Hill said. “And those two things had just diverged.”

Hill described herself as “irritated” with Sondland at the time and that she told him it would all “blow up.”  

“And look at where we are,” she said. Hill also disputed Sondland's characterization that the meeting happened over "coffee" on her last day at the White House. 

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Sondland testified in connection with the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, saying that he and others were part of an effort driven by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial 'Emotion' from Trump's legal team wins presidential plaudits MORE to make a White House meeting contingent on Ukraine announcing investigations into 2016 election interference and Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that employed former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Sanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden MORE's son Hunter Biden on its board.

Sondland said that the effort was widely known among officials at the White House and State Department. 

House Democrats are investigating whether Trump sought to use the White House meeting and security assistance to Ukraine to pressure Kyiv to pursue the investigations, which the president raised on a July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s leader. 

Sondland testified Wednesday that he believed the $400 million in military aid that was temporarily suspended was tied to the investigations, though he acknowledged he never heard from Trump of a quid pro quo related to the aid. 

Trump, who has vigorously denied any quid pro quo or wrongdoing in his contacts with Ukraine, has sought to distance himself from Sondland while claiming the ambassador's testimony exonerated him.