Update 2:45 p.m.
In riveting testimony on Thursday, Fiona Hill, a former national security official, declared that a U.S. ambassador carried out a controversial "domestic political errand" for Donald Trump on Ukraine. The allegation undercuts a mainline of the president’s defense in the impeachment inquiry.
Hill told House investigators she came to realize Ambassador Gordon Sondland wasn’t simply operating outside official diplomatic channels, as she and others suspected, but carrying out instructions from Trump.
“He was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy," she testified, “and those two things had just diverged.”
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Hill’s comment followed a blistering back-and-forth during questioning from Republicans at the House hearing.
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 U.S. national security and foreign policy apparatus.
Hill and Holmes both filled in gaps in previous testimony and poked holes in the accounts of other witnesses. They were particularly adamant that efforts by Trump and Giuliani to investigate the Burisma company were well-known by officials working on Ukraine to be the equivalent of probing the Bidens. That runs counter to earlier testimony from Sondland and Kurt Volker, the former Ukraine special envoy, who insisted they had no idea there was a connection.
Hill left the White House before the July phone call that sparked the impeachment probe, though she was part of other key meetings and conversations related to Ukraine policy. She opened her testimony with an impassioned plea for Republicans to stop peddling an alternative theory of 2016 election interference and helping Russia sow divisions in the United States.
“This is exactly what the Russian government was hoping for,” she said about the current American political climate. “They would pit one side of our electorate against the others.”
Read More: Hill Denounces 'Fictional Narrative' About Ukraine; Holmes Details Trump Call (via NPR.org)