Impeachment Hearing Live(ish) Transcripts

Transcript: Impeachment Hearing, Day 5: Fiona Hill, David Holmes

EVENT: Washington, DC
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Adam B. Schiff
The committee will come to order. Good morning, everyone. This is the seventh in a series of the public hearings the committee will be holding as part of the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry. Without objection, the chair is authorized to declare a recess of the committee at any time. There is a quorum present.
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We will proceed today in the same fashion as our other hearings. I will make an opening statement. Then Ranking Member Nunes will have the opportunity to make a statement. Then we will turn to our witnesses for their opening statements and then to questions. For audience members, we welcome you and respect your interest in being here.
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In turn, we ask for your respect as we proceed with today's hearing. It is the intention of the committee to proceed without disruptions. As chairman, I'll take all necessary and appropriate steps to maintain order and ensure that the committee is run in accordance with House rules and House Resolution 660. With that, I now recognize myself to give an opening statement in the impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States.
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Yesterday morning, the committee heard from Ambassador Gordon Sondland, the American Ambassador to the European Union, the de facto leader of the Three Amigos, who had regular access to President Donald Trump and pressed the new Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, for two investigations Trump believed would help his reelection campaign.
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The first investigation was of a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine, and not Russia, was responsible for interfering in our 2016 election. The second investigation was into the political rival Trump apparently feared most, Joe Biden. Trump sought to weaken Biden and to refute the fact that his own election had been helped by a Russian hacking and dumping operation and Russian social media campaign directed by Vladimir Putin.
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Trump's scheme stood in contrast to the longstanding, bipartisan foreign policy of the United States by undermining military and diplomatic support for a key ally and set back U.S. anticorruption efforts in Ukraine. In conditioning a meeting with Zelensky and then military aid on securing an investigation of his rival, Trump put his personal and political interests above the United States.
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As Ambassador Sondland would later tell career Foreign Service Officer David Holmes immediately after speaking to the President, Trump did "not give a [expletive]" about Ukraine. He cares about "big stuff" that benefits him, like the "Biden investigation" that Giuliani was pushing. David Holmes is here with us today.
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He is a Foreign Service officer currently serving as the Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. Also with us is Dr. Fiona Hill, whose job as the National Security Council Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs encompassed the coordination of U.S. policy towards Ukraine. Dr. Hill left the NSC in July, after more than 2 years in that position.
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Dr. Hill and Mr. Holmes each provide a unique perspective on issues relating to Ukraine, Dr. Hill from Washington, D.C., and Mr. Holmes from on the ground in Kyiv. In early 2019, Dr. Hill became concerned by the increasing prominence of Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal lawyer, who was, as she has testified, asserting quite frequently on television, in public appearances, that he had been given some authority over matters related to Ukraine.
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Hill was not alone in her concerns. Her boss, National Security Adviser John Bolton, was also paying attention, as were other NSC and State Department officials, including Holmes at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. Bolton viewed Giuliani as a "hand grenade that is going to blow everybody up" and was powerless to prevent the former mayor from engineering former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch's firing in late April or her recall.
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Holmes was stunned by the intensity and consistency of media attacks on Yovanovitch by name as a U.S. ambassador and the scope of the allegations that were leveled against her. Yovanovitch's dismissal as a result of Giuliani's smear campaign was one of several things that unsettled Dr. Hill. Another was the role of Gordon Sondland, who emerged as a key player in Ukraine policy in May when he was named as part of the U.S. delegation, led by Secretary Rick Perry, to President Zelensky's inauguration.
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Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman also attended the inauguration and, as Holmes recalls, during a meeting with President Zelensky, took the opportunity to advise the new Ukraine leader to stay out of U.S. domestic politics. Another concern that arose for Dr. Hill around this time was her discovery of a potential NSC back channel on Ukraine.
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Hill learned that an NSC staff member, who did not work on Ukraine and for her, may have been providing Ukraine-related information to President Trump that Dr. Hill was not made aware of. According to Holmes, following the Zelensky inauguration, Sondland and Perry took a very active and unconventional role in formulating our priorities for the new Zelensky administration and personally reaching out to President Zelensky and his senior team.
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Sondland's newfound assertiveness also concerned Dr. Hill, who previously had enjoyed a cordial working relationship with the Ambassador. On June 18, 2019, Hill had a blowup with Sondland when he told her that he was in charge of Ukraine policy. Dr. Hill testified that Sondland "got testy with me, and I said, 'Who has put you in charge of it?' He said, 'The President.'" On July 10th, Dr. Hill was part of a meeting at the White House with a group of U.S. and Ukrainian officials, including Bolton, Sondland, and Energy Secretary Perry, another of the Three Amigos.
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The meeting was intended, among other things, to give the Ukrainians an opportunity to convey that they were anxious to set up a meeting, a first meeting, between their new President and President Trump. Sondland interjected to inform the group that, according to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, the White House meeting sought by the Ukrainian President with Trump would happen if Ukraine undertook certain investigations.
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Hearing this, Bolton abruptly ended the meeting. Undeterred, Sondland brought the Ukrainian delegation and the NSC Director for Ukraine, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, downstairs to another part of the White House, where they were later joined by Dr. Hill. In this second meeting, Sondland was more explicit: Ukraine needed to conduct investigations if they were to get a meeting at all.
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Bolton directed Dr. Hill to report this to NSC Legal Advisor John Eisenberg, telling her, "You go and tell Eisenberg that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this, and you go ahead and tell him what you've heard and what I've said." Dr. Hill did so, as did Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, who separately approached the same lawyers with his concerns.
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On July 18, the day before Dr. Hill left her post at the NSC, Holmes participated in a secure interagency video conference on Ukraine. Towards the end of the meeting, a representative from the Office of Management and Budget announced that the flow of nearly $400 million in security assistance for Ukraine was being held up. The order had come from the President and had been conveyed to OMB by Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney without further explanation.
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Holmes, unaware of the hold prior to the call, was shocked. He thought the suspension of aid was extremely significant, undermining what he had understood to be longstanding U.S. national security goals in Ukraine. One week later, on July 25th, President Trump spoke with President Zelensky by phone. When President Zelensky brought up U.S. military support and noted that Ukraine would like to buy more Javelin anti-tank missiles from the United States, Trump responded by saying, "I would like you to do us a favor, though." Trump then requested that Zelensky investigate the discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.
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Even more ominously, Trump asked Zelensky to look into the Bidens. Neither request had been included in the official talking points for the call prepared by the NSC staff, but both were in Donald Trump's personal interest and the interest of his 2020 reelection campaign. And the Ukraine President knew about both in advance, in part because of efforts by Ambassadors Sondland and Volker to make him aware of President Trump's demands.
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The next day, July 26, in Kyiv, Holmes served as a note-taker during a meeting between Acting Ambassador Bill Taylor, Volker, and Sondland with President Zelensky and other senior Ukrainian officials. Zelensky said that, on the previous day's call, President Trump had, quote, "three times" raised "some very sensitive issues," that he would have to follow up on those issues when they met "in person." Although he did not realize it at the time, Holmes came to understand that the sensitive issues were the investigations that President Trump demanded on the July 25th call.
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Following the meeting with Zelensky, Holmes accompanied Sondland to a separate meeting with one of the Ukrainian President's top advisors, Andriy Yermak, but Holmes was not allowed into the meeting and waited for 30 minutes while Sondland and the Ukrainian met alone, without any note-takers to record what they said.
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After the meeting, Sondland, Holmes, and two other State Department staff went to lunch at a nearby restaurant and sat on an outdoor terrace. At some point during the meal, Sondland pulled out his cell phone, placed a call to the White House, and asked to be connected to the President. When Trump came on the line, Holmes could hear the President's voice clearly.
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Holmes recalled that, quote, "the President's voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume." Sondland said he was calling from Kyiv. He told the President that President Zelensky "loves your ass." Holmes then heard President Trump ask, "So he's going to do the investigation?" Ambassador Sondland replied, "He's going to do it," adding that President Zelensky will do "anything you ask him." After the call ended, Holmes took the opportunity to ask Sondland for his candid impression of the President's views on Ukraine.
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It was at this point that Sondland revealed that President Trump doesn't "give a [expletive]" about Ukraine. The President only cares about "big stuff" that benefits the President, like the "Biden investigation" that Mr. Giuliani was pushing. A month later, National Security Advisor Bolton traveled to Kyiv.
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Between meetings with Ukrainian Government officials, Holmes heard Bolton express to Ambassador Bill Taylor his frustration about Mr. Giuliani's influence with the President. Bolton made clear, however, there was nothing he could do about it. Bolton further stated that the hold on security assistance would not be lifted prior to the upcoming meeting between President Trump and Zelensky in Warsaw, where it would hang on whether Zelensky was able to favorably impress President Trump.
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Trump canceled his trip to Warsaw, but Sondland, Volker, and others continued to press for a public announcement of the opening of investigations by Zelensky. On September 8, Taylor told Holmes that, quote, "now they're insisting Zelensky commit to the investigation in an interview with CNN." Holmes was surprised the requirement was so specific and concrete, since it amounted to nothing less than a, quote, "demand that President Zelensky personally commit to a specific investigation of President Trump's political rival on a cable news channel," unquote.
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On September 9, this committee, along with the Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees, launched our investigation of this corrupt scheme. President Trump released the hold on aid 2 days later. As CNN's Fareed Zakaria has revealed, the Ukrainians canceled the CNN interview shortly thereafter. Two weeks later, on September 25th, the transcript of the July 25th call was released by the White House, and the details of the President's scheme started coming into view.
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In the coming days, Congress will determine what response is appropriate. If the President abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections, if he sought to condition, coerce, extort, or bribe a vulnerable ally into conducting investigations to aid his reelection campaign and did so by withholding official acts -- a White House meeting or hundreds of millions of dollars of needed military aid -- it will be for us to decide whether those acts are compatible with the Office of the Presidency.
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I now recognize Ranking Member Nunes for any remarks he would like to make.
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Devin Nunes
Thank you. Throughout these bizarre hearings, the Democrats have struggled to make the case that President Trump committed some impeachable offense on his phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. The offense itself changes depending on the day, ranging from quid pro quo, to extortion, to bribery, to obstruction of justice, then back to quid pro quo.
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It's clear why the Democrats have been forced onto this carousel of accusations. President Trump had good reason to be worried of Ukrainian election meddling against his campaign and of widespread corruption in that country. President Zelensky, who didn't even know aid to Ukraine had been paused at the time of the call, has repeatedly said there was nothing wrong with the conversation.
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The aid was resumed without the Ukrainians taking the actions they were supposedly being coerced into doing. Aid to Ukraine under President Trump has been much more robust than it was under President Obama, thanks to the provision of Javelin anti-tank weapons. As numerous witnesses have testified, temporary holds on foreign aid occur fairly frequently for many different reasons.
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So how do we have an impeachable offense here, when there's no actual misdeed and no one even claiming to be a victim? The Democrats have tried to solve this dilemma with a simple slogan: "He got caught." President Trump, we are to believe, was just about to do something wrong, and getting caught was the only reason he backed down from whatever nefarious thought crime the Democrats are accusing him of almost committing.
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I once again urge Americans to continue to consider the credibility of the Democrats on this committee who are now hurling these charges. For the last 3 years, it's not President Trump who got caught; it's the Democrats who got caught. They got caught falsely claiming they had more than circumstantial evidence that Trump colluded with Russians to hack the 2016 election.
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They got caught orchestrating this entire farce with the whistleblower and lying about their secret meetings with him. They got caught defending the false allegations of the Steele dossier, which was paid for by them. They got caught breaking their promise that impeachment would only go forward with bipartisan support because of how damaging it is to the American people.
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They got caught running a sham impeachment process featuring secret depositions, hidden transcripts, and an unending flood of Democrat leaks to the media. They got caught trying to obtain nude photos of President Trump from Russian pranksters pretending to be Ukrainians. And they got caught covering up for Alexandra Chalupa, a Democratic National Committee operative who colluded with Ukrainian officials to smear the Trump campaign, by improperly redacting her name from deposition transcripts and refusing to let Americans hear her testimony as a witness in these proceedings.
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That is the Democrats' pitiful legacy in recent years. They got caught. Meanwhile, their supposed star witness testified that he was "guessing" that President Trump was tying Ukrainian aid to investigations, despite no one telling him that was true and the President himself explicitly telling him the opposite, that he wanted nothing from Ukraine.
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Ladies and gentlemen, unless the Democrats once again scramble their kangaroo court rules, today's hearing marks the merciful end of this spectacle in the impeachment committee, formerly known as the Intelligence Committee. Whether the Democrats reap the political benefit they want from this impeachment remains to be seen, but the damage they have done to this country will be long-lasting.
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With this wrenching attempt to overthrow the President, they have pitted Americans against one another and poisoned the mind of fanatics who actually believe the entire galaxy of bizarre accusations they have leveled against the President since the day the American people elected him. I sincerely hope the Democrats end this affair as quickly as possible so our Nation can begin to heal the many wounds it has inflicted on us. The people's faith in government and their belief that their vote counts for something has been shaken.
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From the Russia hoax to the shoddy Ukrainian sequel, the Democrats got caught. Let's hope they finally learn a lessen, give their conspiracy theories a rest, and focus on governing, for a change. In addition, Mr. Chairman, pursuant to House rule XI, clause 2(j)(1), the Republican members transmit our request to convene a minority day of hearings.
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To date, you have blocked key witnesses that we have requested from testifying in this partisan impeachment inquiry. This rule is not displaced by H. Res. 660, and, therefore, under House rule XI, clause 1(a), it applies to the Democrats' impeachment inquiry. We look forward to the chair promptly scheduling an agreed-upon time for the minority day of hearings so that we can hear from key witnesses that you have continually blocked from testifying.
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I'd also like to take a quick moment on an assertion Ms. Hill made in the statement that she submitted to this committee, in which she claimed that some committee members deny that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. As I noted in my opening statement on Wednesday, that in March 2018, Intelligence Committee Republicans published the results of a year-long investigation into Russian meddling.
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The 240-page report analyzed 2016 Russian meddling campaign, the U.S. Government reaction to it, Russian campaigns in other countries, and provided specific recommendations to improve American election security. I'm going to ask my staff to hand these reports to our two witnesses today, just so they can have a recollection of their memory.
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As America may or may not know, Democrats refused to sign on to the Republican report. Instead, they decided to adopt minority views filled with collusion conspiracy theories. Needless to say, it is entirely possible for two separate nations to engage in election meddling at the same time, and Republicans believe we should take meddling seriously by all foreign countries regardless of which campaign is the target.
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I'd like to submit for the record a copy of our report, titled, "Report on Russian Active Measures."
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I yield back.
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Adam B. Schiff
Today, we are joined by Dr. Fiona Hill and David Holmes. Dr. Fiona Hill is a former Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council. Before returning to government, she was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where she directed the Center on the United States and Europe.
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She had previously worked at the National Intelligence Council, the Eurasia Foundation, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. David Holmes is the Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, where he serves as the senior policy and political advisor to Ambassador Taylor, who testified earlier in these hearings.
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He is a career Foreign Service officer. He has previously served in Moscow, New Delhi, Kabul, Bogota, and Pristina. He has also served on the staff of the National Security Council as special assistant to the United States Secretary of State. Two final points before our witnesses are sworn. First, witness depositions as part of this inquiry were unclassified in nature, and all open hearings will also be held at the unclassified level.
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Any information that may touch on classified information will be addressed separately. Second, Congress will not tolerate any reprisal, threat of reprisal, or attempt to retaliate against any U.S. Government official for testifying before Congress, including you or any of your colleagues. If you would please rise, raise your right hand, I will begin by swearing you in. Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
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Let the record show that the witnesses answered in the affirmative. Thank you, and you may be seated. The microphones are sensitive, so you'll need to speak directly into them. Without objection, your written statements will be made part of the record. With that, Mr. Holmes, you are now recognized for your opening statement, and when you conclude, Dr. Hill, you'll be immediately recognized thereafter for your opening statement.
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David Holmes
Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Nunes, and members of the committee. My name is David Holmes, and I'm a career Foreign Service officer with the Department of State. Since August 2017, I have been the Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine. While it is an honor to appear before you today, I want to make clear that I did not seek this opportunity to testify today.
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Since you determined that I may have something of value to these proceedings and issued a subpoena, it is my obligation to appear and to tell you what I know. Indeed, as Secretary Pompeo has stated, I hope everyone who testifies will do so truthfully and accurately. When they do, the oversight role will have been performed, and I think America will come to see what took place here.
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That is my only goal: to testify truthfully and accurately to enable you to perform that role. And, to that end, I have put together this statement to lay out as best I can my recollection of events that may be relevant to this matter. By way of background, I have spent my entire professional career as a Foreign Service officer.
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Like many of the dedicated public servants who have testified in these proceedings, my entire career has been in the service of my country. I'm a graduate of Pomona College in Claremont, California, and received degrees in international affairs from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
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I joined the Foreign Service in 2002 through an apolitical, merit-based process under the George W. Bush administration. And I have proudly served administrations of both parties and worked for their appointees, both political and career. Prior to my current post in Kyiv, Ukraine, I served in the Political and Economic Sections at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia.
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In Washington, I served on the National Security Council staff as director for Afghanistan and as a special assistant to the Under Secretary of State. My prior overseas assignments include New Delhi, India; Kabul, Afghanistan; Bogota, Colombia; and Pristina, Kosovo. As the Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, I lead the Political Section, covering Ukraine's internal politics, foreign relations, and security policies, and I serve as the senior policy and political advisor to the Ambassador.
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The job of an embassy political counselor is to gather information about the host country's political landscape, to report back to Washington, to represent U.S. policies to foreign contacts, and to advise the Ambassador on policy development and implementation. In this role, I'm a senior member of the Embassy's country team and continually involved in addressing issues as they arise.
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I'm also often called upon to take notes in meetings involving the Ambassador or visiting senior U.S. officials with Ukrainian counterparts. For this reason, I have been present in many of the meetings with President Zelensky and his administration, some of which may be germane to this inquiry. While I'm a political counselor at the Embassy, it is important to note that I am not a political appointee or engaged in U.S. politics in any way.
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It is not my job to cover or advise on U.S. politics. On the contrary, I'm an apolitical foreign policy professional, and my job is to focus on the politics of the country in which I serve so that we can better understand the local landscape and better advance U.S. national interests there. In fact, during the period that we'll cover today, my colleagues and I followed direct guidance from Ambassador Yovanovitch and Ambassador Taylor to focus on doing our jobs as foreign policy professionals and to stay clear of Washington politics.
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I arrived in Kyiv to take up my assignment as Political Counselor in August 2017, a year after Ambassador Yovanovitch received her appointment. From August 2017 until her removal from post in May 2019, I was Ambassador Yovanovitch's chief policy advisor and developed a deep respect for her dedication, determination, decency, and professionalism.
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During this time, we worked together closely, speaking multiple times per day, and I accompanied Ambassador Yovanovitch to many of her meetings with senior Ukrainian counterparts. Our work in Ukraine focused on three policy priorities: peace and security, economic growth and reform, and anticorruption and rule of law.
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These policies matched the three consistent priorities of the Ukrainian people since 2014, as measured in public opinion polling -- namely, an end to the conflict with Russia that restores national unity and territorial integrity, responsible economic policies that deliver European standards of growth and opportunity, and effective and impartial rule-of-law institutions that deliver justice in cases of high-level official corruption.
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Our efforts on this third policy priority merit special mention because it was during Ambassador Yovanovitch's tenure that we achieved the hard-fought passage of a law establishing an independent court to try corruption cases. These efforts strained Ambassador Yovanovitch's relationship with former President Poroshenko and some of his allies, including Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, who resisted fully empowering truly independent anticorruption institutions that would help ensure that no Ukrainians, however powerful, were above the law.
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Despite this resistance, the Ambassador and the Embassy kept pushing anticorruption and other priorities of our policy towards Ukraine. Beginning in March 2019, the situation at the Embassy and in Ukraine changed dramatically. Specifically, the three priorities of security, economy, and justice and our support for Ukrainian democratic resistance to Russian aggression became overshadowed by a political agenda promoted by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and a cadre of officials operating with a direct channel to the White House.
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That change began with the emergence of press reports critical of Ambassador Yovanovitch and machinations by then-Prosecutor General Lutsenko and others to discredit her. In mid-March 2019, an Embassy colleague learned from a Ukrainian contact that Mr. Lutsenko had complained that Ambassador Yovanovitch had, quote, "destroyed him" with her refusal to support him until he followed through with his reform commitments and ceased using his position for personal gain.
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In retaliation, Mr. Lutsenko made a series of unsupported allegations against Ambassador Yovanovitch, mostly suggesting that Ambassador Yovanovitch improperly used the Embassy to advance the political interests of the Democratic Party. Among Mr. Lutsenko's allegations were that the Embassy had ordered the investigation of a former Ukrainian official solely because that former official was allegedly the main Ukrainian contact of the Republican Party and of President Trump personally and that the Embassy had allegedly pressured Lutsenko's predecessor to close a case against a different former Ukrainian official solely because of an alleged connection between that official's company, Burisma, and former Vice President Biden's son.
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Mr. Lutsenko also claimed that he had never received $4.4 million in U.S. funds intended for his office and that there was a tape of a Ukrainian official saying that he was trying to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election. Finally, Mr. Lutsenko publicly claimed that Ambassador Yovanovitch had given him a do-not-prosecute list containing the names of her supposed allies, an allegation the State Department called an outright fabrication and that Mr. Lutsenko later retracted.
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Mr. Lutsenko said that, as a result of these allegations, Ambassador Yovanovitch would face serious problems in the United States. Public opinion polls indicated the Ukrainians generally did not believe Mr. Lutsenko's allegations. And on March 22nd, President Poroshenko issued a statement in support of Ambassador Yovanovitch.
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Following Mr. Lutsenko's allegations, Mr. Giuliani and others made a number of public statements critical of Ambassador Yovanovitch, questioning her integrity and calling for her removal from office. Mr. Giuliani was also making frequent public statements pushing for Ukraine to investigate interference in a 2016 election and issues related to Burisma and the Bidens.
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For example, on May 1st, 2019, The New York Times reported that Mr. Giuliani had, quote, "discussed the Burisma investigation and its intersection with the Bidens with the ousted Ukrainian prosecutor general and the current prosecutor." On May 9th, The New York Times reported that Mr. Giuliani said he planned to travel to Ukraine to pursue investigations into the 2016 election interference and into the involvement of former Vice President Biden's son in a Ukrainian gas company.
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Over the next few months, Mr. Giuliani also issued a series of tweets asking, quote, why Biden shouldn't be investigated; attacking, quote, the new President of Ukraine, Zelensky, for being silent on the 2016 election and Biden investigations; and complaining about The New York Times attacking him for, quote, exposing the Biden family history of making millions from Ukrainian criminals.
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Around this time, the Ukrainian Presidential election was approaching, and political newcomer and entertainer Volodymyr Zelensky, who had played a president on television, was surging in the polls, ahead of Mr. Lutsenko's political ally, President Poroshenko. On April 20th, I was present for Ambassador Yovanovitch's third and final meeting with then-candidate Zelensky ahead of his landslide victory in the runoff election the next day.
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As in her two prior meetings that I also attended, they had an entirely cordial, pleasant conversation and signaled their mutual desire to work together. However, the negative narratives about Ambassador Yovanovitch had gained currency in certain segments of the United States press. And on April 26th, Ambassador Yovanovitch departed for Washington, D.C., where she learned that she would be recalled early.
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The barrage of allegations directed at Ambassador Yovanovitch, a career ambassador, is unlike anything I have seen in my professional career. Following President-elect Zelensky's victory, our attention in the Embassy focused on getting to know the incoming Zelensky administration and on preparations for the inauguration scheduled for May 20th, the same day that Ambassador Yovanovitch departed post permanently.
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It quickly became clear that the White House was not prepared to show the level of support for the Zelensky administration that we had originally anticipated. In early May, Mr. Giuliani publicly alleged that Mr. Zelensky was, quote, "surrounded by enemies of the U.S. President" and canceled a visit to Ukraine.
[00:34:46.480 - 00:35:04.480]

Shortly thereafter, we learned that Vice President Pence no longer planned to lead the Presidential delegation to the inauguration. The White House then whittled down an initial proposed list for the official Presidential delegation to the inauguration from over a dozen individuals to just five: Secretary Perry, as its head; Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker, representing the State Department; National Security Council Director Alex Vindman, representing the White House; temporary Acting Charge d'Affaires Joseph Pennington, representing the Embassy; and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.
[00:35:04.480 - 00:35:38.880]

While Ambassador Sondland's mandate as the accredited Ambassador to the European Union did not cover individual member-states, let alone non-member countries like Ukraine, he made clear that he had direct and frequent access to President Trump and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and portrayed himself as the conduit to the President and Mr. Mulvaney for this group.
[00:35:38.880 - 00:36:02.040]

Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland, and Ambassador Volker later styled themselves "the Three Amigos" and made clear they would take the lead on coordinating our policy and engagement with the Zelensky administration. Around the same time, I became aware that Mr. Giuliani, a private lawyer, was taking a direct role in Ukrainian diplomacy.
[00:36:02.040 - 00:36:19.880]

On April 25th, Ivan Bakanov, who was Mr. Zelensky's childhood friend and campaign chair and was ultimately appointed the head of the security services of Ukraine, indicated to me privately that he had been contacted by, quote, "someone named Giuliani who said he was an advisor to the Vice President." I reported Mr. Bakanov's message to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent.
[00:36:19.880 - 00:36:44.360]

Over the following months, it became apparent that Mr. Giuliani was having a direct influence on the foreign policy agenda that the Three Amigos were executing on the ground in Ukraine. In fact, at one point during a preliminary meeting of the inaugural delegation, someone wondered aloud why Mr. Giuliani was so active in the media with respect to Ukraine.
[00:36:44.360 - 00:37:04.120]

My recollection is that Ambassador Sondland stated, quote, "Dammit, Rudy. Every time Rudy gets involved, he goes and [F's] everything up." The inauguration took place on May 20th, and I took notes in the delegation's meeting with President Zelensky. During the meeting, Secretary Perry passed President Zelensky a list that Perry described as, quote, "people he trusts." Secretary Perry told President Zelensky that he could seek advice from the people on this list on issues of energy-sector reform, which was the topic of subsequent meetings between Secretary Perry and key Ukrainian energy-sector contacts.
[00:37:04.120 - 00:37:39.320]

Embassy personnel were excluded from some of these later meetings by Secretary Perry's staff. On May 23rd, Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, Secretary Perry, and Senator Ron Johnson, who had also attended the inauguration, though not on the official delegation, returned to the United States and briefed President Trump.
[00:37:39.320 - 00:37:57.920]

On May 29th, President Trump signed a congratulatory letter to President Zelensky, which included an invitation to visit the White House at an unspecified date. It is important to understand that a White House visit was critical to President Zelensky. President Zelensky needed to show U.S. support at the highest levels in order to demonstrate to Russian President Putin that he had U.S. backing as well as to advance his ambitious anticorruption reform agenda at home.
[00:37:57.920 - 00:38:29.120]

President Zelensky's team immediately began pressing to set a date for that visit. President Zelensky and senior members of his team made clear that they wanted President Zelensky's first overseas trip to be to Washington, to send a strong signal of American support, and requested a call with President Trump as soon as possible.
[00:38:29.120 - 00:38:48.280]

We at the Embassy also believed that a meeting was critical to the success of President Zelensky's administration and its reform agenda, and we worked hard to get it arranged. When President Zelensky's team did not receive a confirmed date for a White House visit, they made alternative plans for President Zelensky's first overseas trip to be to Brussels instead, in part to attend an American Independence Day event that Ambassador Sondland hosted on June 4th. Ambassador Sondland hosted a dinner in President Zelensky's honor following the reception, which included President Zelensky; Jared Kushner; Secretary Pompeo's counselor, Ulrich Brechbuhl; senior European Union officials; and comedian Jay Leno, among others.
[00:38:48.280 - 00:39:33.280]

Ambassador Bill Taylor arrived in Kyiv as Charge d'Affaires on June 17th. For the next month, the focus of our activities, along with those of the Three Amigos, was to coordinate a White House visit. To that end, we were working with the Ukrainians to deliver things that we thought President Trump might care about, such as commercial deals that would benefit the United States, which might convince President Trump to agree to a meeting with President Zelensky.
[00:39:33.280 - 00:39:57.960]

The Ukrainian policy community was unanimous in recognizing the importance of securing the meeting and President Trump's support. Ambassador Taylor reported that Secretary Pompeo had told him prior to his arrival in Kyiv, quote, "We need to work on turning the President around on Ukraine." Ambassador Volker told us that "the next 5 years could hang on what could be accomplished in the next 3 months." I took that to mean that if we did not earn President Trump's support in the next 3 months, we could lose the opportunity to make progress during President Zelensky's 5-year term.
[00:39:57.960 - 00:40:32.080]

Within a week or two, it became apparent that the energy-sector reforms, the commercial deals, and the anticorruption efforts, on which we were making progress, were not making a dent in terms of persuading the White House to schedule a meeting between the Presidents. On June 27th, Ambassador Sondland told Ambassador Taylor in a phone conversation, the gist of which Ambassador Taylor shared with me at the time, that President Zelensky needed to make clear to President Trump that President Zelensky was not standing in the way of, quote, "investigations." I understood that this meant the Biden/Burisma investigations that Mr. Giuliani and his associates had been speaking about in the media since March.
[00:40:32.080 - 00:41:12.360]

While Ambassador Taylor did not brief me on every detail of his communications with the Three Amigos, he did tell me that, on a June 28th call with President Zelensky, Ambassador Taylor, and the Three Amigos, it was made clear that some action on Burisma/Biden investigation was a precondition for an Oval Office visit.
[00:41:12.360 - 00:41:35.880]

Also on June 28th, while President Trump was still not moving forward on a meeting with President Zelensky, we met with -- he met with Russian President Putin at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, sending a further signal of lack of support to Ukraine. We became concerned that, even if a meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky could occur, it would not go well, and I discussed with Embassy colleagues whether we should stop seeking a meeting altogether.
[00:41:35.880 - 00:42:01.320]

While the White House visit was critical to the Zelensky administration, a visit that failed to send a clear and strong signal of support likely would be worse for President Zelensky than no visit at all. Congress has appropriated $1.5 billion in security assistance for Ukraine since 2014. This assistance has provided crucial material and moral support to Ukraine in its defensive war with Russia and has helped Ukraine build its armed forces virtually from scratch into arguably the most capable and battle-hardened land force in Europe.
[00:42:01.320 - 00:42:42.000]

I have had the honor of visiting the main training facility in western Ukraine with Members of Congress and members of this very committee -- Ms. Stefanik -- where we witnessed firsthand U.S. National Guard troops, along with allies, conducting training for Ukrainian soldiers. Since 2014, National Guard units from California, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, and Wisconsin have trained shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukrainian counterparts.
[00:42:42.000 - 00:43:08.720]

Given the history of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine and the bipartisan recognition of its importance, I was shocked when, on July 18th, an Office of Management and Budget staff member surprisingly announced the hold on Ukraine security assistance. The announcement came toward the end of a nearly 2-hour National Security Council secure video conference call, which I participated in from the Embassy conference room.
[00:43:08.720 - 00:43:34.360]

The official said that the order had come from the President and had been conveyed to OMB by Mr. Mulvaney with no further explanation. This began a week or so of efforts by various agencies to identify the rationale for the freeze, to conduct a review of the assistance, and to reaffirm the unanimous view of the Ukraine policy community of its importance.
[00:43:34.360 - 00:43:56.880]

NSC counterparts confirmed to us that there had been no change in our Ukrainian policy but could not determine the cause of the hold or how to lift it. On July 25th, President Trump made a congratulatory phone call to President Zelensky after his party won a commanding majority in Ukraine's parliamentary election.
[00:43:56.880 - 00:44:17.760]

Contrary to standard procedure, the Embassy received no readout of that call, and I was unaware of what was discussed until the transcript was released on September 25th. Upon reading the transcript, I was deeply disappointed to see that the President raised none of what I understood to be our interagency agreed-upon foreign policy priorities in Ukraine and, instead, raised the Biden/Burisma investigation and referred to the theory about CrowdStrike and its supposed connection to Ukraine and the 2016 election.
[00:44:17.760 - 00:44:48.480]

The next day, July 26th, 2019, I attended meetings at the Presidential Administration Building in Kyiv with Ambassador Taylor, Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, and I took notes during those meetings. Our first meeting was with President Zelensky's chief of staff. It was brief, as he had already been summoned by President Zelensky to prepare for a subsequent broader meeting.
[00:44:48.480 - 00:45:10.320]

But he did say that President Trump had expressed interest during the previous day's phone call in President Zelensky's personnel decisions related to the Prosecutor General's office. The delegation then met with President Zelensky and several other senior officials. During the meeting, President Zelensky stated that, during the July 25th call, President Trump had, quote, "three times raised some very sensitive issues" and that he would have to follow up -- he, Zelensky -- would have to follow up on those issues when he and President Trump met in person.
[00:45:10.320 - 00:45:40.640]

Not having received a readout of the July 25th call, I did not know at the time what those sensitive issues were. After the meeting with President Zelensky, Ambassador Volker and Ambassador Taylor quickly left the Presidential Administration Building for a trip to the front lines. Ambassador Sondland, who was to fly out that afternoon, stayed behind to have a meeting with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to President Zelensky.
[00:45:40.640 - 00:46:05.160]

As I was leaving the meeting with President Zelensky, I was told to join the meeting with Ambassador Sondland and Mr. Yermak to take notes. I had not expected to join that meeting and was a flight of stairs behind Ambassador Sondland as he headed to meet with Mr. Yermak. When I reached Mr. Yermak's office, Ambassador Sondland had already gone in to the meeting.
[00:46:05.160 - 00:46:24.560]

I explained to Mr. Yermak's assistant that I was supposed to join the meeting as the Embassy's representative and strongly urged her to let me in, but she told me that Ambassador Sondland and Mr. Yermak had insisted that the meeting be one-on-one with no note-taker. I then waited in the anteroom until the meeting ended, along with a member of Ambassador Sondland's staff and a member of the U.S. Embassy Kyiv staff.
[00:46:24.560 - 00:46:45.240]

When the meeting ended, the two staffers and I accompanied Ambassador Sondland out of the Presidential Administration Building. Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted to go to lunch, and I told Ambassador Sondland that I'd be happy to join him and the two staffers for lunch if he wanted to brief me out on his meeting with Mr. Yermak or discuss other issues, and Ambassador Sondland said that I should join.
[00:46:45.240 - 00:47:04.280]

The four of us went to a nearby restaurant and sat on an outdoor terrace. I sat directly across from Ambassador Sondland, and the two staffers sat off to our sides. At first, the lunch was largely social. Ambassador Sondland selected a bottle of wine that he shared among the four of us, and we discussed topics such as marketing strategies for his hotel business.
[00:47:04.280 - 00:47:25.640]

During the lunch, Ambassador Sondland said that he was going to call President Trump to give him an update. Ambassador Sondland placed a call on his mobile phone, and I heard him announce himself several times, along the lines of, "Gordon Sondland, holding for the President." It appeared that he was being transferred through several layers of switchboards and assistants, and I then noticed Ambassador Sondland's demeanor changed and understood that he had been connected to President Trump.
[00:47:25.640 - 00:47:51.800]

While Ambassador Sondland's phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the President's voice through the earpiece of the phone. The President's voice was loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume. I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the President and explain he was calling from Kyiv.
[00:47:51.800 - 00:48:12.360]

I heard President Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied, yes, he was in Ukraine, and went on to state that President Zelensky, quote, "loves your ass." I then heard President Trump ask, "So he's going to do the investigation?" Ambassador Sondland replied that he is going to do it, adding that President Zelensky will do "anything you ask him to do." Even though I did not take notes of these statements, I have a clear recollection that these statements were made.
[00:48:12.360 - 00:48:42.480]

I believe that my colleagues who were sitting at the table also knew that Ambassador Sondland was speaking with the President. The conversation then shifted to Ambassador Sondland's efforts on behalf of the President to assist a rapper who was jailed in Sweden, and I could only hear Ambassador Sondland's side of the conversation.
[00:48:42.480 - 00:48:59.960]

Ambassador Sondland told the President that the rapper was, quote, "kind of [F'ed] there" and should have pled guilty. He recommended that the President, quote, "wait until after the sentencing or it will only make it worse." And he added that the President should "let him get sentenced, play the racism card, give him a ticker-tape when he comes home." Ambassador Sondland further told the President that Sweden, quote, "should've released him on your word," but that "you can tell the Kardashians that you tried." After the call ended, Ambassador Sondland remarked that the President was in a bad mood, as Ambassador Sondland stated was often the case early in the morning.
[00:48:59.960 - 00:49:36.960]

I then took the opportunity to ask Ambassador Sondland for his candid impression of the President's views on Ukraine. In particular, I asked Ambassador Sondland if it was true that the President did not give a [expletive] about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland agreed that the President did not give a [expletive] about Ukraine.
[00:49:36.960 - 00:49:55.720]

I asked, why not? And Ambassador Sondland stated that the President only cares about "big stuff." I noted there was big stuff going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia. And Ambassador Sondland replied that he met big stuff that benefits the President, like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.
[00:49:55.720 - 00:50:14.040]

And the conversation then moved on to other topics. Upon return to the Embassy, I immediately briefed my direct supervisor, the Deputy Chief of Mission, about Ambassador Sondland's call with President Trump and my subsequent conversation with Ambassador Sondland. I told others at the Embassy about the call as well.
[00:50:14.040 - 00:50:32.320]

I also emailed an embassy official in Sweden regarding the issue with the U.S. rapper that was discussed on the call. July 26 was my last day in the office, ahead of a long-planned vacation that ended on August 6th. After returning to the Embassy, I told Ambassador Taylor about the July 26th call. I also repeatedly referred to the call and the conversation with Ambassador Sondland in meetings and conversations where the issue of the President's interest in Ukraine was potentially relevant.
[00:50:32.320 - 00:51:02.240]

At that time, Ambassador Sondland's statement to the President -- statement of the President's lack of interest in Ukraine was a particular focus. We understood that, in order to secure a meeting between President Trump and President Zelensky, we would have to work hard to find a way to explain Ukraine's importance to President Trump in terms that he found compelling.
[00:51:02.240 - 00:51:23.160]

Over the ensuing weeks, we continued to try to identify ways to frame the importance of Ukraine in ways that would appeal to the President, to determine how to lift the hold on security assistance, and to move forward on the scheduling of a White House visit by President Zelensky. Ukrainian independence day, August 24th, presented another good opportunity to show support for Ukraine.
[00:51:23.160 - 00:51:42.840]

Secretary Pompeo had considered attending, as National Security Advisor Bolton had attended in 2018 and Defense Secretary Mattis had attended in 2017. But, in the end, nobody senior to Ambassador Volker attended. Shortly thereafter, on August 27th, Ambassador Bolton visited Ukraine and brought welcome news that President Trump had agreed to meet President Zelensky on September 1st in Warsaw.
[00:51:42.840 - 00:52:07.680]

Ambassador Bolton further indicated that the hold on security assistance would not be lifted prior to the Warsaw meeting, where it would hang on whether President Zelensky was able to, quote, "favorably impress President Trump." I took notes in Ambassador Bolton's meetings that day with President Zelensky and his chief of staff.
[00:52:07.680 - 00:52:25.280]

Ambassador Bolton told Zelensky's chief of staff that the meeting between the Presidents in Warsaw would be, quote, "crucial to cementing their relationship." However, President Trump ultimately pulled out of the Warsaw trip, so the hold remained in place, with no clear means to get it lifted. Between the meetings on August 27th, I heard Ambassador Bolton express to Ambassador Taylor and National Security Council Senior Director Tim Morrison his frustration about Mr. Giuliani's influence with the President, making clear there was nothing he could do about it. He recommended that Mr. Lutsenko's replacement as Prosecutor General open a channel with his counterpart, Attorney General Barr, in place of the informal channel between Mr. Yermak and Mr. Giuliani.
[00:52:25.280 - 00:53:08.120]

Ambassador Bolton also expressed frustration about Ambassador Sondland's expansive interpretation of his mandate. After President Trump canceled his visit to Warsaw, we continued to try to appeal to the President in foreign policy and national security terms. To that end, Ambassador Taylor told me that Ambassador Bolton recommended that he, Ambassador Taylor, send a first-person cable to Secretary Pompeo articulating the importance of the security assistance.
[00:53:08.120 - 00:53:35.600]

At Ambassador Taylor's direction, I drafted and transmitted the cable on Ambassador Taylor's behalf on August 29th, which further attempted to explain the importance of Ukraine and the security assistance to U.S. national security. By this point, however, my clear impression was that the security assistance hold was likely intended by the President either as an expression of dissatisfaction with the Ukrainians, who had not yet agreed to the Burisma/Biden investigation, or as an effort to increase the pressure on them to do so. On September 5th, I took notes at Senator Johnson and Senator Chris Murphy's meetings with President Zelensky in Kyiv, where President Zelensky asked about the security assistance.
[00:53:35.600 - 00:54:16.760]

Although both Senators stressed strong, bipartisan congressional support for Ukraine, Senator Johnson cautioned President Zelensky that President Trump has a negative view of Ukraine and that President Zelensky would have a difficult time overcoming it. Senator Johnson further explained that he had been, quote, "shocked" by President Trump's negative reaction during an Oval Office meeting on May 23rd, when he and the Three Amigos proposed that President Trump meet President Zelensky and show support for Ukraine.
[00:54:16.760 - 00:54:44.080]

On September 8th, Ambassador Taylor told me, quote, "Now they're insisting Zelensky commit to the investigation in an interview with CNN," which I took to refer to those Three Amigos. I was shocked the requirement was so specific and concrete. While we had advised our Ukrainian counterparts to voice a commitment to following the rule of law and generally investigating credible corruption allegations, this was a demand that President Zelensky personally commit on a cable news channel to a specific investigation of President Trump's political rival.
[00:54:44.080 - 00:55:19.480]

On September 11th, the hold was finally lifted, after significant press coverage and bipartisan congressional expressions of concern about the withholding of security assistance. Although we knew the hold was lifted, we were still concerned that President Zelensky had committed, in exchange for the lifting, to give the requested CNN interview.
[00:55:19.480 - 00:55:39.920]

We had several indications that the interview would occur. First, the YES conference in Kyiv was held from September 12th to 14th, and CNN's Fareed Zakaria was one of the moderators. Second, on September 13th, an Embassy colleague received a phone call from another colleague who worked for Ambassador Sondland.
[00:55:39.920 - 00:55:58.120]

My colleague texted me regarding that call that, quote, "Sondland and the Zelensky interview" -- "Sondland said the Zelensky interview is supposed to be today or Monday, and they plan to announce that a certain investigation that was 'on hold' will progress." My colleague said he did not know if this was decided or if Sondland was advocating for it. Apparently he's been discussing this with Yermak.
[00:55:58.120 - 00:56:20.560]

Finally, also on September 13th, Ambassador Taylor and I ran into Mr. Yermak on our way out of a meeting with President Zelensky in his private office. Ambassador Taylor again stressed the importance of staying out of U.S. politics and said he hoped no interview was planned. Mr. Yermak did not answer but shrugged in resignation, as if to indicate that he had no choice.
[00:56:20.560 - 00:56:41.160]

In short, everybody thought there was going to be an interview and that the Ukrainians believed they had to do it. The interview ultimately did not occur. On September 21st, Ambassador Taylor and I collaborated on input he sent to Mr. Morrison to brief President Trump ahead of a September 25th meeting that had been scheduled with President Zelensky in New York on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly.
[00:56:41.160 - 00:57:03.640]

The transcript of the July 25th call was released the same day. As of today, I have still not seen a readout of the September 25th meeting. As the impeachment inquiry has progressed, I have followed press reports and reviewed the statements of Ambassadors Taylor and Yovanovitch. Based on my experiences in Ukraine, my recollection is generally consistent with their testimony, and I believed that the relevant facts were therefore being laid out for the American people.
[00:57:03.640 - 00:57:33.800]

However, in the last couple weeks, I read press reports expressing for the first time that certain senior officials may have been acting without the President's knowledge or freelancing in their dealings with Ukraine. At the same time, I also read reports noting the lack of firsthand evidence in the investigation and suggesting that the only evidence being elicited at the hearings was hearsay.
[00:57:33.800 - 00:57:55.440]

I came to realize that I had firsthand knowledge regarding certain events on July 26 that had not otherwise been reported and that those events potentially bore on the question of whether the President did, in fact, have knowledge that those senior officials were using the levers of diplomatic power to influence the new Ukrainian President to announce the opening of a criminal investigation against President Trump's political opponent.
[00:57:55.440 - 00:58:21.480]

It is at that point that I made the observation to Ambassador Taylor that the incident I had witnessed on July 26th had acquired greater significance, which is what he reported in his testimony last week and is what led to the subpoena for me to appear here today. In conclusion, I'd like to take a moment to turn back to Ukraine.
[00:58:21.480 - 00:58:42.120]

Today, this very day, marks exactly 6 years since throngs of pro-Western Ukrainians spontaneously gathered on Kyiv's Independence Square to launch what became known as the Revolution of Dignity. While the protests began in opposition to a turn towards Russia and away from the West, they expanded over 3 months to reject the entire corrupt, repressive system that had been sustained by Russian influence in the country.
[00:58:42.120 - 00:59:12.720]

Those events were followed by Russia's occupation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, an invasion of Ukraine's Eastern Donbas region, and an ensuing war that, to date, has cost almost 14,000 lives. Despite the Russian aggression, over the past 5 years, Ukrainians have rebuilt a shattered economy, adhered to a peace process, and moved economically and socially closer to the West, toward our way of life.
[00:59:12.720 - 00:59:42.520]

Earlier this year, large majorities of Ukrainians again chose a fresh start by voting for a political newcomer as President, replacing 80 percent of their parliament, endorsing a platform consistent with our democratic values, our reform priorities, and our strategic interests. This year's revolution at the ballot box underscores that, despite its imperfections, Ukraine is a genuine and vibrant democracy and an example to other post-Soviet countries and beyond, from Moscow to Hong Kong.
[00:59:42.520 - 01:00:18.040]

How we respond to this historic opportunity will set the trajectory of our relationship with Ukraine and will define our willingness to defend our bedrock international principles and our leadership role in the world. Ukrainians want to hear a clear and unambiguous reaffirmation that our longstanding, bipartisan policy of strong support for Ukraine remains unchanged and that we fully back it at the highest levels.
[01:00:18.040 - 01:00:46.880]

Now is not the time to retreat from our relationship with Ukraine but, rather, to double-down on it. As we sit here today, Ukrainians are fighting a hot war on Ukrainian territory against Russian aggression. This week alone, since I have been here in Washington, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two injured by Russian-led forces in eastern Ukraine despite a declared cease-fire.
[01:00:46.880 - 01:01:13.880]

I learned overnight that seven more were injured yesterday. As Vice President Pence said after his meeting with President Zelensky in Warsaw, the U.S.-Ukraine relationship has never been stronger. Ukrainians and their new government earnestly want to believe that. Ukrainians cherish their bipartisan American support that has sustained their Euro-Atlantic aspirations, and they recoil at the thought of playing a role in U.S. domestic politics or elections.
[01:01:13.880 - 01:01:43.400]

At a time of shifting allegiances and rising competitors in the world, we have no better friend than Ukraine -- a scrappy, unbowed, determined, and, above all, dignified people who are standing up against Russian authoritarianism and aggression. They deserve better. We're now at a inflection point in Ukraine, and it is critical to our national security that we stand in strong support of our Ukrainian partners.
[01:01:43.400 - 01:02:12.080]

Ukrainians and freedom-loving people everywhere are watching the example we set here of democracy and the rule of law. Thank you.
[01:02:12.080 - 01:02:17.960]
Adam B. Schiff
Thank you, Mr. Holmes. Dr. Hill.
[01:02:17.960 - 01:02:20.000]
Fiona Hill
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Do you want me to adjust the microphone?
[01:02:20.000 - 01:02:25.680]
Adam B. Schiff
Is the microphone on?
[01:02:25.680 - 01:02:33.560]
Fiona Hill
I believe it is now. Is that right?
[01:02:33.560 - 01:02:36.520]
Adam B. Schiff
Yes. Perfect.
[01:02:36.520 - 01:02:37.720]
Fiona Hill
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Nunes, and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify before you today. I have a short opening statement. I appreciate the importance of Congress' impeachment inquiry, and I'm appearing today as a fact witness as I did during my deposition on October 14th in order to answer your questions about what I saw, what I did, what I knew, and what I know with regard to the subjects of your inquiry.
[01:02:37.720 - 01:03:08.320]

I believe that those who have information that the Congress deems relevant have a legal and a moral obligation to provide it. I take great pride in the fact that I'm a nonpartisan foreign policy expert who has served under three Republican and Democratic Presidents. I have no interest in advancing the outcome of your inquiry in any particular direction except toward the truth.
[01:03:08.320 - 01:03:32.120]

I will not provide a long narrative statement because I believe that the interests of Congress and the American people is best served by allowing you to ask me your questions. And I'm happy to expand upon my October 14th deposition testimony in response to your questions today. But before I do so, I'd like to communicate two things.
[01:03:32.120 - 01:03:52.240]

First, I'd like to share a little bit about who I am. I'm an American by choice. I became a citizen in 2002. I was born in the northeast of England in the same region that George Washington's ancestors came from. Both my region and my family have deep ties to the United States. My paternal grandfather fought through World War I in the Royal field artillery, surviving being shot, shelled, and gassed before American troops intervened to end the war in 1918. During the second World War, other members of my family fought to defend the free world from fascism alongside American soldiers, sailors, and airmen.
[01:03:52.240 - 01:04:30.400]

The men in my father's family were coal miners. His family has always struggled with poverty. When my father Alfred was 14, he joined his father, brothers, brother, uncles, and cousins in the coal mines to help put food on the table. When the last of the local mines closed in the 1960s, my father wanted to emigrate to the United States to work in the coal mines in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, but his mother, my grandmother, had been crippled from hard labor, and my father couldn't leave, so he stayed in northern England until he died in 2012. My mother still lives in my hometown today.
[01:04:30.400 - 01:05:06.440]

While his dream of emigrating to America was thwarted, my father loved America, its culture, its history, and its role as a beacon of hope for the world. He always wanted someone in the family to make it to the United States. I began my university studies in 1984, and I just learned that I went to the same university as my colleague here, Mr. Holmes, in St Andrews in Scotland.
[01:05:06.440 - 01:05:27.920]

I just thought I would add that. And in 1987, I won a place in an academic exchange to the Soviet Union. I was there for the signing of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces or INF Treaty, and when President Ronald Reagan met Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in Moscow, this is a turning point for me. An American professor who I met there told me about graduate student scholarships to the United States, and the very next year, thanks to his advice, I arrived in America to start my advanced studies at Harvard.
[01:05:27.920 - 01:05:54.480]

Years later, I can say with confidence that this country has offered me opportunities I never would have had in England. I grew up poor with a very distinctive working class accent. In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement. This background has never set me back in America.
[01:05:54.480 - 01:06:13.760]

For the best part of three decades, I have built a career as a nonpartisan, nonpolitical national security professional focusing on Europe and Eurasia and especially the former Soviet Union. I've served our country under three Presidents, in my most recent capacity under President Trump, as well as in my former position under -- and in my former position as National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia under Presidents George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
[01:06:13.760 - 01:06:39.160]

In that role, I was the intelligence community's senior expert on Russia and the former Soviet Republics including Ukraine. It was because of my background and experience that I was asked to join the National Security Council in 2017. At the NSC, Russia was part of my portfolio, but I was also responsible for coordinating U.S. policy for all of western Europe, all of eastern Europe, including Ukraine and Turkey, along with NATO and the European Union.
[01:06:39.160 - 01:07:06.000]

I was hired initially by General Michael Flynn, K.T. McFarland, and General Keith Kellogg, but then I started working April 2017 when General McMaster was the National Security Advisor. I, and they, thought that I could help them with President Trump's stated goal of improving relations with Russia while still implementing policies designed to deter Russian conduct that threatens the United States, including the unprecedented and successful Russian operation to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
[01:07:06.000 - 01:07:46.000]

This relates the second thing I want to communicate. Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps, somehow for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.
[01:07:46.000 - 01:08:13.920]

The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies confirmed in bipartisan and congressional reports. It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified.
[01:08:13.920 - 01:08:30.400]

The impacts of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today. Our Nation is being torn apart. Truth is questioned. Our highly professional, expert career Foreign Service is being undermined. U.S. support for Ukraine which continues to face armed Russian aggression is being politicized. The Russian Government's goal is to weaken our country, to diminish America's global role, and to neutralize a perceived U.S. threat to Russian interests.
[01:08:30.400 - 01:08:59.000]

President Putin and the Russian security services aim to counter U.S. foreign policy objectives in Europe, including in Ukraine, where Moscow wishes to reassert political and economic dominance. I say this not as an alarmist but as a realist. I do not think long-term conflict with Russia is either desirable or inevitable.
[01:08:59.000 - 01:09:19.480]

I continue to believe that we need to seek ways of stabilizing our relationship with Moscow even as we counter their efforts to harm us. Right now, Russia's security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election. We are running out of time to stop them. In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically-driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.
[01:09:19.480 - 01:09:45.520]

As Republicans and Democrats have agreed for decades, Ukraine is a valued partner of the United States, and it plays an important role in our national security. And as I told the committee last month, I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukranian Government is a U.S. adversary and that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked us in 2016. These fictions are harmful even if they're deployed for purely domestic political purposes.
[01:09:45.520 - 01:10:15.320]

President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a Super PAC. They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives. When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other, degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy.
[01:10:15.320 - 01:10:44.480]

I respect the work that this Congress does in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities, including this inquiry, and I am here to help you to the best of my ability. If the President or anyone else impedes or subverts the national security of the United States in order to further domestic, political, or personal interests, that's more than worthy of your attention.
[01:10:44.480 - 01:11:10.040]

But we must not let domestic politics stop us from defending ourselves against the foreign powers who truly wish us harm. I'm ready to respond to your questions. Thank you.
[01:11:10.040 - 01:11:22.360]
Adam B. Schiff
Thank you, Dr. Hill. We'll now proceed to the first round of questions. As detailed in the memo provided to committee members, there will be 45 minutes of questions conducted by the chairman or majority counsel followed by 45 minutes for the ranking member or minority counsel. Following that, unless I specify, additional equal time for extended questioning will proceed under the 5-minute rule, and every member will have a chance to ask questions.
[01:11:22.360 - 01:11:51.680]

I now recognize myself or majority counsel for the first round of questions. First of all, thank you both for being here. Thank you for testifying. Dr. Hill, your story reminds me a great deal of what we heard from Alexander Vindman. The few immigrant stories that we have heard just in the course of these hearings are among the most powerful, I think, I've ever heard.
[01:11:51.680 - 01:12:15.640]

You and Dr. -- and Colonel Vindman and others are the best of this country, and you came here by choice, and we are so blessed that you did, so welcome. My colleagues took some umbrage with your opening statement, but I think the American people can be forgiven if they have the same impression listening to some of the statements of my colleagues during this hearing that Russia didn't intervene in our election, it was all the Ukranians.
[01:12:15.640 - 01:12:41.960]

There's an effort to take a tweet here and an op ed there and a newspaper story here and somehow equate it with the systemic intervention that our intelligence agencies found that Russia perpetrated in 2016 through an extensive social media campaign and a hacking and dumping operation. Indeed, the report my colleagues gave you that they produced during the investigation calls into question the accuracy of the Intelligence Committee's finding that Russia intervened to help one side, to help Donald Trump at the expense of Hillary Clinton.
[01:12:41.960 - 01:13:20.240]

No one in the Intelligence Community questions that finding, nor does the FBI, nor does the Senate bipartisan Intelligence Committee report, nor does the minority committee report of this committee. The House Republican report is an outlier. But let me ask you, Dr. Hill, about your concern with that Russian narrative, that it wasn't the Russians that engaged in interfering in the election of 2016, and, of course, this was given a boost when President Trump in Helsinki in the presence of Putin said that he questioned his own intelligence agencies.
[01:13:20.240 - 01:13:59.480]

But why are the Russians pushing that narrative that it was Ukraine? How does that serve Russian interests?
[01:13:59.480 - 01:14:05.280]
Fiona Hill
The Russians' interest, frankly, is to delegitimize our entire presidency. So one issue that I do want to raise, and I think that this would resonate with our colleagues on the committee from the Republican party, is that the goal of the Russians was really to put whoever became the President, by trying to tip their hands on one side of the scale, under a cloud.
[01:14:05.280 - 01:14:27.800]

So if Secretary, former First Lady, former Senator Clinton had been elected as President as, indeed, many expected in the run up prior to the election in 2016, she too would have had major questions about her legitimacy. And I think that, you know, what we're seeing here as a result of all of these narratives is this is exactly what the Russian Government was hoping for.
[01:14:27.800 - 01:14:54.880]

They seed misinformation. They seed doubt. They have everybody questioning the legitimacy of a presidential candidate, be it President Trump or potentially President Clinton, that they would pit one side of our electorate against the other, that they would pit one party against the other. And that's why I wanted to make such a strong point at the very beginning because there were certainly individuals in many other countries who had harsh words for both of the candidates, who had harsh words for many of the candidates during the primaries.
[01:14:54.880 - 01:15:24.000]

We had a lot of people who were running for President on the Republican side. There were many people who were trying themselves to game the outcome. As you know, in the United Kingdom, the bookies take bets. You can go to Live Brooks or William Hill and lay a bet on who you think is going to be the candidate.
[01:15:24.000 - 01:15:46.280]

So the Russian Government was trying to land their own bets, but what they wanted to do was give a spread. They wanted to make sure that whoever they had bet on, whoever they had tried to tip the scales would also experience some discomfort, that they would beholden to them in some way, that they would create just the kind of chaos that we have seen in our politics.
[01:15:46.280 - 01:16:07.320]

So I just want to again emphasize that we need to be very careful as we discuss all of these issues not to give them more fodder that they can use against us in 2020.
[01:16:07.320 - 01:16:16.360]
Adam B. Schiff
I quite agree. There's an additional benefit, and I think you're absolutely right. The Russians are equal opportunity meddlers. They will not only help one side, but they'll also just seek to sow discord in the United States along ethnic lines, religious lines, geographic lines. But there's also a benefit now, isn't there, for Russia to put the blame on Ukraine, to cast doubt on whether they intervened at all in our election and blame it on a U.S. ally as a way of driving a wedge between the U.S. and Ukraine.
[01:16:16.360 - 01:16:47.920]

Isn't that true?
[01:16:47.920 - 01:16:49.880]
Fiona Hill
Well, that's absolutely the case. And, in fact, you just made the point about U.S. allies. The Russians like to put a lot of blame on U.S. allies for incidents that they have perpetrated. We saw that recently with the United Kingdom and the Russian secret service's attack on a former spy, Mr. Skripal, and his daughter in Salisbury in England where you may recall that the Russians actually accused the British Government of perpetrating this themselves.
[01:16:49.880 - 01:17:19.840]

So this falls into a long pattern of deflection and of the Russian Government trying to pin the blame on someone else. And as my colleague, Mr. Holmes here, has laid out, the Russians have a particular vested interest in putting Ukraine, and Ukranians, and Ukranian leaders in a very bad light. All of the issues that we started to discuss today and that you on committee have been deeply involved in began with Russia's illegal unaccession of the peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 in response, and in 2015, and all of the different acts of aggression that Russia has engaged in since starting the war in Donbass, shooting down Russian operatives, a plane, an MH-17 over the Donbass at a later period.
[01:17:19.840 - 01:18:04.280]

There is a great deal of hostility and maligned intent towards Ukraine, and it suits the Russian Government very much if we are also looking at Ukraine as somehow a perpetrator of maligned acts against us.
[01:18:04.280 - 01:18:16.240]
Adam B. Schiff
Thank you. Mr. Holmes, I want to ask you a quick couple of questions. And I guess often is the case for people, you know, I was obviously at your deposition. I read your opening testimony, but as you learn more facts, you start to see things in a different light even though your opening statement is very much consistent with your opening statement during the deposition, and I was struck in particular by something you said on page 10 of your opening statement.
[01:18:16.240 - 01:18:51.960]

While we had advised our Ukranian counterparts to voice a commitment to following the rule of law and generally investigating credible corruption allegations, this was a demand that President Zelensky personally commit on a cable news channel to a specific investigation of President Trump's political rival.
[01:18:51.960 - 01:19:07.880]

This gets to a point I made at the close of our hearing yesterday about hypocrisy. Here we are, and we are urging Ukranians to commit to following the rule of law, as you said, and only investigate genuine and credible allegations. And what are we doing? We're asking them to investigate the President's political rival.
[01:19:07.880 - 01:19:28.640]

Ukranians are pretty sophisticated actors, aren't they? They can recognize hypocrisy when they see it. What does that do to our anticorruption efforts when the Ukranians perceive that we're engaging in corruption ourselves?
[01:19:28.640 - 01:19:38.280]
David Holmes
Yes, sir. So our longstanding policy is to encourage them to establish and build rule of law institutions that are capable and that are independent and that can actually pursue credible allegations. That's our policy. We've been doing that for quite some time with some success. So focusing on particularly cases, including particular cases where there is an interest of the President, it's just not part of what we've done.
[01:19:38.280 - 01:20:13.000]

It's hard to explain why we would do that.
[01:20:13.000 - 01:20:15.240]
Adam B. Schiff
Well, it harkens back to the conversation Ambassador Volker testified about when he urged Ukraine not to investigate or prosecute Poroshenko, and the reply from Mr. Yermak was oh, you mean like you want us to do with the Bidens and the Clintons. They're sophisticated enough actors to recognize when we're saying do as we say, not as we do. Are they not?
[01:20:15.240 - 01:20:36.880]
David Holmes
Yes, sir.
[01:20:36.880 - 01:20:38.520]
Adam B. Schiff
You also in your testimony, and I was struck by this anew today, when even after the aid is lifted, Ukraine still felt pressure to make these statements. And you and Ambassador Taylor were worried that they were going to do it on CNN. And you said that Ambassador Taylor again stressed the importance of staying out of U.S. politics and said he hoped no interview was planned.
[01:20:38.520 - 01:20:57.280]

Mr. Yermak did not answer but shrugged in resignation, as if to indicate that they had no choice. In short, everyone thought there was going to be an interview and that the Ukranians believed they had to do it. You're acknowledging, I think, Mr. Holmes, are you not, that Ukraine very much felt pressured to undertake these investigations that the President, Rudy Giuliani, and Ambassador Sondland, and others were demanding?
[01:20:57.280 - 01:21:14.520]
David Holmes
Yes, sir. And although the hold on the security assistance may have been lifted, there were still things they wanted that they weren't getting, including a meeting with the President in the Oval Office. Whether the hold -- the security assistance hold continued or not, Ukranians understood that that's something the President wanted, and they still wanted important things from the President.
[01:21:14.520 - 01:21:35.880]

And I think that continues to this day. I think they're being very careful. They still need us now going forward. In fact, right now, President Zelensky is trying to arrange a summit meeting with President Putin in the coming weeks, his first face-to-face meeting with him to try to advance the peace process.
[01:21:35.880 - 01:21:55.560]

He needs our support. He needs President Putin to understand that America supports Zelensky at the highest levels. So this doesn't end with the lifting of the security assistance hold. Ukraine still needs us, and as I said, still fighting this war this very day.
[01:21:55.560 - 01:22:09.240]
Adam B. Schiff
Well, and I would underscore again as my colleague did so eloquently, they got caught. That's the reason the aid was finally lifted. Mr. Goldman.
[01:22:09.240 - 01:22:17.800]
Daniel Goldman
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning to both of you. Yesterday we heard testimony from Ambassador Gordon Sondland from the European Union who testified that President Trump wanted Ukraine to announce the investigations into the Bidens and Burisma and the 2016 elections because they would benefit him politically and that he used the leverage of that White House meeting and the security assistance to pressure President Zelensky to do so. Dr. Hill, you testified, I believe, that in mid-June, Ambassador Sondland told you that he was in charge of Ukraine policy.
[01:22:17.800 - 01:22:57.000]

Is that right?
[01:22:57.000 - 01:22:57.920]
Fiona Hill
That's correct, sir. Yes.
[01:22:57.920 - 01:23:01.160]
Daniel Goldman
Who did he tell you had put him in charge of Ukraine policy?
[01:23:01.160 - 01:23:03.280]
Fiona Hill
He told me it was the President.
[01:23:03.280 - 01:23:07.640]
Daniel Goldman
Mr. Holmes, did you also understand that Ambassador Sondland had been given some authority over Ukraine policy from the President?
[01:23:07.640 - 01:23:14.920]
David Holmes
We understood that he had been told to work with Mr. Giuliani.
[01:23:14.920 - 01:23:20.080]
Daniel Goldman
And did he hold himself out as having direct contact and knowledge of the President's priorities and interests?
[01:23:20.080 - 01:23:30.400]
David Holmes
Yes, sir.
[01:23:30.400 - 01:23:31.520]
Daniel Goldman
Now, Mr. Holmes, I'm going to go to that July 26th date when you overheard the conversation between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump, and I'm going to ask you a little bit about the lead up to that conversation. Before the lunch that you described, you said that you accompanied Ambassadors Sondland, Volker, and Taylor to a meeting with President Zelensky.
[01:23:31.520 - 01:23:57.920]

Is that right?
[01:23:57.920 - 01:23:58.720]
David Holmes
That's correct.
[01:23:58.720 - 01:23:59.320]
Daniel Goldman
And you took notes at that meeting?
[01:23:59.320 - 01:24:00.520]
David Holmes
Yes, sir.
[01:24:00.520 - 01:24:01.000]
Daniel Goldman
And you reviewed those notes before you came here to testify today?
[01:24:01.000 - 01:24:03.840]
David Holmes
[01:24:03.840 - 01:24:04.280]
Daniel Goldman
And they were helpful to refresh your recollection as to what happened. Is that right?
[01:24:04.280 - 01:24:08.480]
David Holmes
Sure. Yes.
[01:24:08.480 - 01:24:09.760]
Daniel Goldman
During that meeting, President Zelensky said that on his phone call with President Trump the previous day that three times, President Trump had mentioned sensitive issues. Did you understand what President Zelensky was referring to when he said the sensitive issues?
[01:24:09.760 - 01:24:27.800]
David Holmes
I couldn't be sure what he was referring to until I later read the transcript of the July 25th call, but I was aware of various contacts between the Three Amigos and his government about this set of issues.
[01:24:27.800 - 01:24:43.440]
Daniel Goldman
And after you read the call, what did you determine to be the sensitive issues that President Zelensky referenced?
[01:24:43.440 - 01:24:51.520]
David Holmes
The Burisma Biden investigation.
[01:24:51.520 - 01:24:54.240]
Daniel Goldman
After this meeting with President Zelensky, you testified that Ambassador Sondland had a one on one meeting with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Zelensky, and that you were prohibited from going into that meeting to take notes. Is that right?
[01:24:54.240 - 01:25:07.800]
David Holmes
[01:25:07.800 - 01:25:08.440]
Daniel Goldman
And yesterday, Ambassador Sondland testified that he probably discussed the investigations with Mr. Yermak. Did Ambassador Sondland tell you at all what they discussed?
[01:25:08.440 - 01:25:18.440]
David Holmes
He did not.
[01:25:18.440 - 01:25:19.320]
Daniel Goldman
Now, after this meeting with Mr. Yermak, you went to lunch. And can you just describe where you were sitting at the restaurant?
[01:25:19.320 - 01:25:25.840]
David Holmes
Yes, sir. The restaurant has sort of glass doors that open onto a terrace, and we were at the first tables on the terrace, so immediately outside of the interior of the restaurant. The doors were all wide open. There were -- there was tables, a table for four, while I recall it being two tables for two pushed together.
[01:25:25.840 - 01:25:42.360]

In any case, it was quite a wide table, and the table was set. There was sort of a table runner down the middle. I was directly across from Ambassador Sondland. We were close enough that we could, you know, share an appetizer between us, and then the two staffers were off to our right at this next table.
[01:25:42.360 - 01:26:02.680]
Daniel Goldman
Now, you said that at some point, Ambassador Sondland pulled out his cell phone and called President Trump. This was an unsecure cell phone. Is that right?
[01:26:02.680 - 01:26:18.560]
David Holmes
Yes, sir.
[01:26:18.560 - 01:26:19.360]
Daniel Goldman
In the middle of a restaurant in Kyiv?
[01:26:19.360 - 01:26:21.160]
David Holmes
[01:26:21.160 - 01:26:21.720]
Daniel Goldman
Now, you said that you were able to hear President Trump's voice through the receiver. How were you able to hear if it was not on speaker phone?
[01:26:21.720 - 01:26:30.720]
David Holmes
It was several things. It was quite loud when the President came on, quite distinctive. I believe Ambassador Sondland also said that he often speaks very loudly over the phone, and I certainly experienced that. When the President came on, he sort of winced and held the phone away from his ear like this, and he did that for the first couple exchanges.
[01:26:30.720 - 01:26:54.800]

I don't know if he then turned the volume down, if he got used to it, if the President moderated his volume. I don't know. But that's how I was able to hear.
[01:26:54.800 - 01:27:06.360]
Daniel Goldman
And so you were able to hear some of what President Trump said to President Zelensky. Is that right?
[01:27:06.360 - 01:27:15.640]
David Holmes
The first portion of the conversation, yes.
[01:27:15.640 - 01:27:17.960]
Daniel Goldman
And what did you hear President Trump say to -- I'm sorry, not President Zelensky, to Ambassador Sondland?
[01:27:17.960 - 01:27:24.200]
David Holmes
What did I hear the --
[01:27:24.200 - 01:27:26.120]
Daniel Goldman
The President say to Ambassador Sondland.
[01:27:26.120 - 01:27:28.840]
David Holmes
Yeah. He clarified whether he was in Ukraine or not. He said, yes, I'm here in Ukraine. And then Ambassador Sondland said -- said he loves your ass. He'll do anything you want. He said, is he going to do the investigation?
[01:27:28.840 - 01:27:42.680]
Daniel Goldman
So you heard President Trump ask Ambassador Sondland is he going to do the investigation?
[01:27:42.680 - 01:27:46.720]
David Holmes
Yes, sir.
[01:27:46.720 - 01:27:47.960]
Daniel Goldman
What was Ambassador Sondland's response?
[01:27:47.960 - 01:27:51.200]
David Holmes
He said, oh, yeah. He's going to do it. He'll do anything you ask.
[01:27:51.200 - 01:27:55.320]
Daniel Goldman
And was that the end of the Ukraine portion of the conversation?
[01:27:55.320 - 01:27:58.600]
David Holmes
[01:27:58.600 - 01:27:58.800]
Daniel Goldman
Afterwards, you described a follow-on conversation that you had with Ambassador Sondland where you asked him, I think, generally what did President Trump think of Ukraine. Is that right?
[01:27:58.800 - 01:28:17.400]
David Holmes
[01:28:17.400 - 01:28:17.600]
Daniel Goldman
What did Ambassador Sondland say to you?
[01:28:17.600 - 01:28:20.160]
David Holmes
He said he doesn't really care about Ukraine.
[01:28:20.160 - 01:28:22.400]
Daniel Goldman
Did he use slightly more colorful language than that?
[01:28:22.400 - 01:28:26.600]
David Holmes
He did.
[01:28:26.600 - 01:28:27.400]
Daniel Goldman
What did he say that he does care about?
[01:28:27.400 - 01:28:29.480]
David Holmes
He said he cares about big stuff.
[01:28:29.480 - 01:28:31.520]
Daniel Goldman
Did he explain what he meant by big stuff?
[01:28:31.520 - 01:28:35.280]
David Holmes
Well, I asked him, well, what kind of big stuff? We've got big stuff going on here like a war with Russia, and he said, no, big stuff like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani is pushing.
[01:28:35.280 - 01:28:46.960]
Daniel Goldman
Now, were you familiar with the Biden investigation that he referenced at that point?
[01:28:46.960 - 01:28:50.480]
David Holmes
Yes, sir.
[01:28:50.480 - 01:28:51.160]
Daniel Goldman
And how do you have such a specific and clear recollection of this conversation with the President and your conversation with Ambassador Sondland?
[01:28:51.160 - 01:29:01.480]
David Holmes
Yeah. So this was a very distinctive experience. I've never seen anything like this in my Foreign Service career, of someone at a lunch in a restaurant making a call on a cell phone to the President of the United States, being able to hear his voice. He has a very distinctive personality. You've all seen him on television.
[01:29:01.480 - 01:29:18.920]

Very colorful language was used. They were directly addressing something that I had been wondering about and working on for weeks and even months, a topic that had led to the recall of my former boss, the former ambassador. And so here was a person who said he had direct contact with the President and had said that over the course of time.
[01:29:18.920 - 01:29:42.000]

Here he is actually having that contact with the President, hearing the President's voice, and them talking about this issue of the Biden investigation that I had been hearing about.
[01:29:42.000 - 01:29:49.560]
Daniel Goldman
So just to summarize, during the phone call, that you overheard Ambassador Sondland have with President Trump, you heard President Trump himself ask -- the only question that you really heard him ask, I believe, is whether he was going to do the investigation, to which Ambassador Sondland responded that he would, and he would, in fact, do anything that President Zelensky wants.
[01:29:49.560 - 01:30:06.720]

Is that an accurate recitation of what happened?
[01:30:06.720 - 01:30:08.200]
David Holmes
That's correct.
[01:30:08.200 - 01:30:10.520]
Daniel Goldman
And then after that call, you had a subsequent conversation with Ambassador Sondland where he, in sum and substance, told you that the President doesn't care about Ukraine. He only cares about big stuff related to himself and particularly the Biden investigation that Giuliani was pushing?
[01:30:10.520 - 01:30:26.760]
David Holmes
[01:30:26.760 - 01:30:27.160]
Daniel Goldman
Now, a day before your lunch with Ambassador Sondland, President Trump did speak with President Zelensky, as you referred, and certainly the President made it clear to President Zelensky that he cared about the Biden investigation. Now, neither of you did listen to this call, but as you testified, you both read it subsequent to its publication.
[01:30:27.160 - 01:30:52.680]

Dr. Hill, you during your time, 2 and a half years in the White House, listened to a number of presidential phone calls. Is that right?
[01:30:52.680 - 01:31:03.200]
Fiona Hill
That's right.
[01:31:03.200 - 01:31:05.160]
Daniel Goldman
Can you estimate approximately how many?
[01:31:05.160 - 01:31:08.560]
Fiona Hill
I can't, actually. I mean, sometimes there would be multiple calls during the week. I was there for more than 2 years, so it's a fair number.
[01:31:08.560 - 01:31:17.880]
Daniel Goldman
Have you ever heard a call like this one that you read?
[01:31:17.880 - 01:31:21.360]
Fiona Hill
I don't want to comment on this call because this is, in my view, executive privilege.
[01:31:21.360 - 01:31:27.040]
Daniel Goldman
[01:31:27.040 - 01:31:27.800]
Fiona Hill
In terms of the testimony -- yes.
[01:31:27.800 - 01:31:29.440]
Lee Wolosky
Yeah. I think that -- as a threshold matter, I think that there are issues of classification regarding head of state communications so we do want to be sensitive to in this forum, among other issues.
[01:31:29.440 - 01:31:39.360]
Daniel Goldman
Understood. I'm really just focused on this one call that has been declassified and published and just asking you whether you had ever heard any Presidential phone call along these lines.
[01:31:39.360 - 01:31:50.760]
Fiona Hill
Well, again, I'd like just to focus in this testimony on this particular call, and I will just say that I found this particular call's subject matter and the way it was conducted surprising.
[01:31:50.760 - 01:32:03.160]
Daniel Goldman
You said in your deposition testimony that you were very shocked and very saddened to read it.
[01:32:03.160 - 01:32:08.400]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[01:32:08.400 - 01:32:09.400]
Daniel Goldman
Why was that?
[01:32:09.400 - 01:32:10.960]
Fiona Hill
Because of the nature of the discussion, the juxtaposition of the issues in which they were raised, and also given the fact that I myself had actually opposed, along with Ambassador Bolton for some period, having a call unless it was very well prepared and that we were confident that the issues that Ukraine and the United States were most generally together interested in were going to be raised, and I saw in this call that this was not the case.
[01:32:10.960 - 01:32:36.720]
Daniel Goldman
You also testified that you were concerned that this call was turning a White House meeting into some kind of asset. Do you recall that testimony?
[01:32:36.720 - 01:32:46.400]
Fiona Hill
I don't think it was specifically about that call, but I recall the testimony because this was clearly the discussion preceding the call. Remember, I left on July 19th, and the call took place the following week. In the months leading up to that, from May onwards, it became very clear that the White House meeting itself was being predicated on other issues, namely, investigations and the questions about the election interference in 2016.
[01:32:46.400 - 01:33:14.600]
Daniel Goldman
Mr. Holmes, you indicate in your opening statement that the chief of staff to President Zelensky had indicated to you that in this phone call on July 25th, there was a discussion about personnel issues related to the Prosecutor General's office. After you read the call, did you understand who and what that was referring to?
[01:33:14.600 - 01:33:33.840]
David Holmes
Yes, sir. In that brief meeting with the chief of staff, it was very confusing to me why -- in only the few minutes we had, why that would have been the issue he raised. So it wasn't until I read the transcript of the call on the 25th that I understood that the President had specifically mentioned Prosecutor General Lutsenko who the Zelensky administration was in the process of replacing and carving out all his sort of underlings who had been, you know, collaborating with him on some of the corruption we saw there.
[01:33:33.840 - 01:34:02.920]
Daniel Goldman
And I believe you also said that President Lutsenko was the source of some of Mr. Giuliani's public views and allegations. Is that right?
[01:34:02.920 - 01:34:11.560]
David Holmes
Yes, sir. So about 2 weeks before the press kind of wave that we saw targeting Ambassador Yovanovitch became public, an embassy contact had reported to us privately that Mr. Lutsenko was sending these messages and had met with an American journalist to try to get those messages out.
[01:34:11.560 - 01:34:31.000]
Daniel Goldman
What was the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine's view of Prosecutor General Lutsenko?
[01:34:31.000 - 01:34:37.720]
David Holmes
He was not a good partner. He had failed to deliver on the promised reforms that he had committed to when he took office, and he was using his office to insulate and protect political allies while presumably enriching himself.
[01:34:37.720 - 01:34:52.280]
Daniel Goldman
Is another way to describe that corrupt?
[01:34:52.280 - 01:34:55.320]
David Holmes
[01:34:55.320 - 01:34:55.720]
Daniel Goldman
Now, I want to take a look at a couple of excerpts from this July 25th call with you, and the first one occurs right after President Zelensky thanked President Trump for the United States' support in the area of defense. And President Trump immediately then says, I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot, and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike.
[01:34:55.720 - 01:35:25.840]

I guess you have one of your wealthy people, the server. They say Ukraine has it. Now, Dr. Hill, is this a reference to this debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine interference in the 2016 election that you discussed in your opening statement as well as with Chairman Schiff?
[01:35:25.840 - 01:35:45.720]
Fiona Hill
The reference to CrowdStrike and the server, yes, that's correct.
[01:35:45.720 - 01:35:49.760]
Daniel Goldman
And it is your understanding that there is no basis for these allegations. Is that correct?
[01:35:49.760 - 01:35:56.760]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[01:35:56.760 - 01:35:57.440]
Daniel Goldman
Now, isn't it also true that some of President Trump's most senior advisors had informed him that this theory of Ukraine interference in the 2016 election was false?
[01:35:57.440 - 01:36:11.440]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[01:36:11.440 - 01:36:12.040]
Daniel Goldman
So is it your understanding, then, that President Trump disregarded the advice of his senior officials about this theory and instead listened to Rudy Giuliani's views?
[01:36:12.040 - 01:36:23.120]
Fiona Hill
That appears to be the case, yes.
[01:36:23.120 - 01:36:24.640]
Daniel Goldman
And I also, then, want to just show one other exhibit that goes back to what you were testifying earlier, Dr. Hill, about Russia's interest in promoting this theory. This is an excerpt from a February 2nd, 2017, news conference between -- with President Putin and Prime Minister Orban of Hungary where Putin says second, as we all know, during the presidential campaign in the United States, the Ukranian Government adopted a unilateral position in favor of one candidate.
[01:36:24.640 - 01:36:57.960]

More than that, certain oligarchs, certainly with the approval of the political leadership, funded this candidate, or female candidate, to be more precise. Mr. Holmes, you spent 3 years as well in the U.S. Embassy in Russia. Why would it be to Vladimir Putin's advantage to promote this theory of Ukraine interference?
[01:36:57.960 - 01:37:18.840]
David Holmes
First of all, to deflect from the allegations of Russian interference. Second of all, to drive a wedge between the United States and Ukraine which Russia wants to essentially get back into its sphere of influence. Thirdly, to besmirch Ukraine and its political leadership, to degrade and erode support for Ukraine from other key partners in Europe and elsewhere.
[01:37:18.840 - 01:37:40.920]
Daniel Goldman
And Dr. Hill, by promoting this theory of Ukranian interference in the 2016 election, was President Trump adopting Vladimir Putin's view over his own senior advisors and intelligence officials?
[01:37:40.920 - 01:37:55.200]
Fiona Hill
I think we have to be very careful about the way that we phrase that. This is a view that President Putin and the Russian security services and many actors in Russia have promoted, but I think that this view has also got some traction, perhaps in parallel and separately here in the United States, and those two things have over time started to fuse together.
[01:37:55.200 - 01:38:19.080]
Daniel Goldman
Well, back in May of this year, do you recall that President Trump had a phone conversation in early May with President Putin?
[01:38:19.080 - 01:38:30.320]
Fiona Hill
I do.
[01:38:30.320 - 01:38:31.360]
Daniel Goldman
And that he also then met in mid-May with Prime Minister Orban who had joined President Putin at this press conference?
[01:38:31.360 - 01:38:38.200]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[01:38:38.200 - 01:38:39.120]
Daniel Goldman
Now, that happened in between the time when President Zelensky was elected on April 21st and his inauguration on May 20th. Is that right?
[01:38:39.120 - 01:38:52.720]
Fiona Hill
[01:38:52.720 - 01:38:53.920]
Daniel Goldman
And in fact, isn't it true that President Trump had asked Vice President Pence to attend the inauguration after his phone call with President Zelensky on April 21st?
[01:38:53.920 - 01:39:06.000]
Fiona Hill
I'm not sure that I can say that President Trump had asked Vice President Pence. I was not in any meeting in which that took place. I can say that I myself and many others at the NSC and in the State Department were quite keen, very eager to have Vice President Pence go to Ukraine to represent the United States Government and the President.
[01:39:06.000 - 01:39:26.840]
Daniel Goldman
And is that also your recollection, Mr. Holmes, that you wanted Vice President Pence to attend?
[01:39:26.840 - 01:39:31.720]
David Holmes
Yes, sir. And we understood that that was the plan.
[01:39:31.720 - 01:39:35.320]
Daniel Goldman
Now, Jennifer Williams, from the Office of the Vice President, testified here that on May 13th, which is the same day that President Trump met with Prime Minister Orban, that the President called off Vice President Pence's trip for unknown reasons but before the inauguration date had been scheduled. And, Dr. Hill, were you aware also that during that period, there was a lot of publicity, and I think, Mr. Holmes, you referenced this in your opening statement as well, about Rudy Giuliani's interest in these investigations in Ukraine?
[01:39:35.320 - 01:40:16.320]
Fiona Hill
I was certainly aware, yes.
[01:40:16.320 - 01:40:22.960]
Daniel Goldman
And around this time, Dr. Hill, you also, I believe, testified that Ambassador Bolton had expressed some views to you about Mr. Giuliani's interests in Ukraine. Do you recall what you said?
[01:40:22.960 - 01:40:39.400]
Fiona Hill
[01:40:39.400 - 01:40:39.600]
Daniel Goldman
Or what he said to you, rather?
[01:40:39.600 - 01:40:41.680]
Fiona Hill
I do -- I do recall, yes. It was part of a conversation about the things that Mr. Giuliani was saying very frequently in public. We saw them often -- or saw him often on television making these statements. And I had also already brought to Ambassador Bolton's attention the attacks, the smear campaign against Ambassador Yovanovitch and expressed great regret about how this was unfolding and, in fact, the shameful way in which Ambassador Yovanovitch was being smeared and attacked.
[01:40:41.680 - 01:41:13.560]

And I had asked if there was anything that we could do about it, and Ambassador Bolton had looked pained, basically indicated with body language that there was nothing much that we could do about it. And he then in the course of that discussion said that Rudy Giuliani was a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up.
[01:41:13.560 - 01:41:31.680]
Daniel Goldman
Did you understand what he meant by that?
[01:41:31.680 - 01:41:34.400]
Fiona Hill
I did, actually.
[01:41:34.400 - 01:41:35.560]
Daniel Goldman
What did he mean?
[01:41:35.560 - 01:41:36.320]
Fiona Hill
Well, I think he meant that obviously what Mr. Giuliani was saying was pretty explosive, in any case. He was frequently on television making quite incendiary remarks about everyone involved in this and that he was clearly pushing forward issues and ideas that would, you know, probably come back to haunt us. And, in fact, I think that that's where we are today.
[01:41:36.320 - 01:41:56.520]
Daniel Goldman
Mr. Holmes, did the Ukranians understand that Rudy Giuliani represented the President's views?
[01:41:56.520 - 01:42:03.480]
David Holmes
I believe they did. At first, he was reaching out to them directly. He also -- Ambassador Yovanovitch's removal, I think, is relevant to this course of inquiry because she was removed following this media campaign in which Rudy Giuliani and his associates were very prominent and criticizing her for not taking seriously some of the theories and issues that later came up. And so when she was removed, you know, commentators in Ukraine believed that Lutsenko, working with Giuliani, had succeeded in getting her removed.
[01:42:03.480 - 01:42:42.440]

So they were already aware of Mr. Giuliani and his influence, the issues that he was promoting, and ultimately that he was able to get an ambassador removed partly because of that. So he was someone to contend with. And then in addition, immediately after the inauguration, he began reaching out to the Zelensky administration, key figures in the Zelensky administration, and he continued to do that.
[01:42:42.440 - 01:43:08.440]
Daniel Goldman
Let's focus on the inauguration for a minute. You escorted, for lack of a better word, the U.S. delegation around?
[01:43:08.440 - 01:43:16.920]
David Holmes
So I joined them in some of their meetings but not for the entire day.
[01:43:16.920 - 01:43:21.480]
Daniel Goldman
And who was the official -- who was on the official delegation?
[01:43:21.480 - 01:43:24.680]
David Holmes
Yes, sir. It was five people, so it was -- the head of the delegation was Secretary Perry, and then it was Ambassador Volker representing the State Department. Ambassador Sondland, our temporary Charge, Joseph Pennington, and Alex Vindman representing the White House.
[01:43:24.680 - 01:43:40.040]
Daniel Goldman
And did the delegation have a meeting with President Zelensky that you attended?
[01:43:40.040 - 01:43:44.400]
David Holmes
[01:43:44.400 - 01:43:44.760]
Daniel Goldman
And you testified, I think, in your -- previously that Secretary Perry gave a list of some sort to President Zelensky at that meeting. Do you recall that?
[01:43:44.760 - 01:43:55.920]
David Holmes
Yes. In the meeting with the President, Secretary Perry, as the head of the delegation, opened the meeting for the American side and had a number of points he made. And during that period, he handed over a piece of paper. I did not see what was on the paper, but Secretary Perry described what was on the paper as a list of trusted individuals and recommended that Secretary -- that President Zelensky could draw from that list for advice on energy sector reform issues.
[01:43:55.920 - 01:44:26.280]
Daniel Goldman
Do you know who was on that list?
[01:44:26.280 - 01:44:28.040]
David Holmes
I didn't see the list. I don't know. Other colleagues -- there are other people who have been in the mix for a while on that set of issues, other people Secretary Perry has mentioned as being people to consult on reform.
[01:44:28.040 - 01:44:43.760]
Daniel Goldman
And are they Americans?
[01:44:43.760 - 01:44:46.240]
David Holmes
[01:44:46.240 - 01:44:46.640]
Daniel Goldman
Now, do you also recall that Colonel Vindman spoke to President Zelensky in that meeting?
[01:44:46.640 - 01:44:53.040]
David Holmes
[01:44:53.040 - 01:44:53.520]
Daniel Goldman
And what did he say to President Zelensky in terms of some of the issues that we're addressing here in this investigation?
[01:44:53.520 - 01:45:01.800]
David Holmes
Yes, sir. He was the last to speak. He made a general point about the importance of Ukraine to our national security, and he said it's very important that the Zelensky administration stay out of U.S. domestic politics.
[01:45:01.800 - 01:45:15.840]
Daniel Goldman
Was it your understanding that President Zelensky and the Ukranians were already starting to feel some pressure to conduct these political investigations?
[01:45:15.840 - 01:45:25.240]
David Holmes
[01:45:25.240 - 01:45:25.960]
Daniel Goldman
And those were the ones related to Biden, and Burisma, and the 2016 election?
[01:45:25.960 - 01:45:30.280]
David Holmes
[01:45:30.280 - 01:45:30.760]
Daniel Goldman
Now, Dr. Hill, you also testified around this same time in May, you learned that President Trump was receiving information from someone else at the National Security Council. Is that right?
[01:45:30.760 - 01:45:43.400]
Fiona Hill
That is not quite right. I was told in passing that someone else at the National Security Council, that the President may want to speak to them because of some materials related to Ukraine.
[01:45:43.400 - 01:45:56.080]
Daniel Goldman
And did that person indicate that the President thought that was the Director of Ukraine?
[01:45:56.080 - 01:46:01.640]
Fiona Hill
That was correct.
[01:46:01.640 - 01:46:02.640]
Daniel Goldman
Who --
[01:46:02.640 - 01:46:03.040]
Fiona Hill
It was a very brief conversation, just to be clear.
[01:46:03.040 - 01:46:05.040]
Daniel Goldman
Who is the Director of Ukraine?
[01:46:05.040 - 01:46:07.400]
Fiona Hill
The Director of Ukraine is Alex Vindman, Colonel Vindman.
[01:46:07.400 - 01:46:11.680]
Daniel Goldman
And who did this individual in the executive secretary's office refer to?
[01:46:11.680 - 01:46:15.360]
Fiona Hill
The individual just said the name Kash.
[01:46:15.360 - 01:46:18.600]
Daniel Goldman
Did you know who that was?
[01:46:18.600 - 01:46:20.680]
Fiona Hill
Initially, when I was thinking about it, but I had to search my mind, and the only Kash that I knew at the National Security Council was Kash Patel.
[01:46:20.680 - 01:46:28.240]
Daniel Goldman
And Kash Patel did not work on Ukraine matters that you oversaw. Is that right?
[01:46:28.240 - 01:46:32.800]
Fiona Hill
Not that I oversaw, no.
[01:46:32.800 - 01:46:34.280]
Daniel Goldman
So the indication is that Kash Patel had provided some information directly to the President without your knowledge?
[01:46:34.280 - 01:46:41.440]
Fiona Hill
That seemed to be the indication.
[01:46:41.440 - 01:46:43.120]
Daniel Goldman
Now, I want to go back to the July 25th call right now where President Trump in another excerpt asked President Zelensky about his political -- potential political opponent, Vice President Joe Biden. In this excerpt, the President said, the other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.
[01:46:43.120 - 01:47:12.000]

Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it. It sounds horrible to me. Now, Dr. Hill, this was, of course, one of the allegations that Rudy Giuliani was pushing. Is that right?
[01:47:12.000 - 01:47:26.680]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[01:47:26.680 - 01:47:27.280]
Daniel Goldman
And now confirmed in this July 25th call that the President was also interested in it?
[01:47:27.280 - 01:47:32.680]
Fiona Hill
[01:47:32.680 - 01:47:33.280]
Daniel Goldman
Ambassadors Volker and Sondland have tried to draw a distinction between their understanding of the connection between Burisma and the Bidens. But Dr. Hill, was it apparent to you that when President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, or anyone else was pushing for an investigation into Burisma that the reason why they wanted that investigation related to what President Trump said here, the Bidens?
[01:47:33.280 - 01:47:58.400]
Fiona Hill
It was very apparent to me that that was what Rudy Giuliani intended, yes, intended to convey, that Burisma was linked to the Bidens, and he said this publicly, repeatedly.
[01:47:58.400 - 01:48:07.360]
Daniel Goldman
And Mr. Holmes, you also understood that Burisma was code for Bidens?
[01:48:07.360 - 01:48:11.960]
David Holmes
[01:48:11.960 - 01:48:12.360]
Daniel Goldman
And do you think that anyone involved in Ukraine matters in the spring and the summer would understand that as well?
[01:48:12.360 - 01:48:18.160]
David Holmes
[01:48:18.160 - 01:48:18.720]
Daniel Goldman
Now, are either -- Dr. Hill, are you aware of any evidence to support the allegations against Vice President Biden?
[01:48:18.720 - 01:48:27.760]
Fiona Hill
I am not, no.
[01:48:27.760 - 01:48:32.280]
Daniel Goldman
And, in fact, Mr. Holmes, the former Prosecutor General of Ukraine who Vice President Biden encouraged to fire was actually corrupt. Is that right?
[01:48:32.280 - 01:48:47.640]
David Holmes
[01:48:47.640 - 01:48:48.120]
Daniel Goldman
And was not pursuing corruption investigations and prosecutions, right?
[01:48:48.120 - 01:48:53.360]
David Holmes
My understanding is the Prosecutor General at the time, Shokin, was not at that time pursuing investigations of Burisma or the Bidens.
[01:48:53.360 - 01:49:03.680]
Daniel Goldman
And in fact, removing that corrupt Prosecutor General was part of the United States' anticorruption policy. Isn't that correct?
[01:49:03.680 - 01:49:12.080]
David Holmes
That's correct. And not just us but all of our allies and other institutions who were involved in Ukraine at the time.
[01:49:12.080 - 01:49:16.880]
Daniel Goldman
Now, Dr. Hill, you indicated earlier that you had understood that a White House meeting was conditioned on the pursuit by Ukraine of these investigations, and I want to focus on the July 10th meeting in the White House where that came to light. You indicated that in your testimony that there was a large meeting that Ambassador Bolton ran where Ambassadors Sondland, Volker, and Secretary Perry also attended.
[01:49:16.880 - 01:49:46.160]

Is that right?
[01:49:46.160 - 01:49:47.000]
Fiona Hill
That's correct, yes.
[01:49:47.000 - 01:49:48.000]
Daniel Goldman
And why were they included in that meeting with two Ukranian officials about national security matters?
[01:49:48.000 - 01:49:54.000]
Fiona Hill
Well, the initial intent had not been to include them. We had anticipated that the two Ukranian officials would have a number of meetings as is usually the procedure and that there would be meetings at the State Department, potentially also at the Energy Department. And then there was a request to have Ambassadors Sondland and Volker included coming directly from their offices, and as a result of that, clearly given the important role that Secretary Perry was playing in the energy sector reform in Ukraine and the fact that he had also been in the delegation to the Presidential inauguration in Ukraine, we decided that it would be better, then, to include all three of them.
[01:49:54.000 - 01:50:34.600]
Daniel Goldman
Now, toward the end of this meeting, the Ukranians raised their ongoing desire for an Oval Office meeting. Is that right?
[01:50:34.600 - 01:50:43.880]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[01:50:43.880 - 01:50:44.600]
Daniel Goldman
And what happened after they did that?
[01:50:44.600 - 01:50:46.520]
Fiona Hill
Well, I listened very carefully to Ambassador Sondland's testimony yesterday, so I want to actually point out something where I think it's easy to explain why he had a different interpretation of how this came into being. The meeting, in addition to being scheduled for about 45, you know, minutes to an hour, it was definitely in the wrap-up phase of the meeting when this occurred.
[01:50:46.520 - 01:51:12.520]

We had gone through a series of discussions. Oleksandr Danylyuk, who was at this point the designated National Security Advisor of Ukraine, really wanted to get into the weeds of how we might reform the National Security Council. He talked to me about this prior to the meeting, and he was hoping and had this opportunity with the National Security Advisor in the United States to get his firsthand opinions and thoughts on what might happen.
[01:51:12.520 - 01:51:37.240]

We also wanted to go through discussion about how important it was for Ukraine to get its energy sector reform underway, and clearly, Secretary Perry had some talking points. This is an issue that Ambassador Bolton was also interested in. And then we knew that the Ukranians would have on their agenda inevitably the question about a meeting.
[01:51:37.240 - 01:51:56.840]

And so as we get through the main discussion, we're going into that wrap-up phrase. Ukranians Mr. Danylyuk starts to ask about a White House meeting, and Ambassador Bolton was trying to parry this back. Although he's the National Security Advisor, he's not in charge of scheduling the meeting. We have input recommending the meetings, and this goes through a whole process.
[01:51:56.840 - 01:52:18.640]

So it's not Ambassador Bolton's role to start pulling out the schedule and start saying, right, well, we're going to look and see if this Tuesday in this month is going to work with us. And he does not as a matter of course like to discuss the details of these meetings. He likes to leave them to, you know, the appropriate staff for this.
[01:52:18.640 - 01:52:34.760]

So this was already going to be an uncomfortable issue. As Ambassador Bolton was trying to move that part of the discussion away, I think he was going to try to deflect it onto another wrap-up topic, Ambassador Sondland leaned in basically to say, well, we have an agreement that there will be a meeting, and the specific investigations are put underway, and that's when I saw Ambassador Bolton stiffen.
[01:52:34.760 - 01:52:59.680]

I was sitting behind him in the chair, and I saw him sit back slightly like this. He had been more moving forward like I am to the table. And, for me, that was an unmistakable body language, and it caught my attention. And then he looked up to the clock, and, you know, at his watch or at his wrist, in any case.
[01:52:59.680 - 01:53:18.200]

Again, I was sitting behind him and basically said well, you know, it's been really great to see you. I'm afraid I've got another -- another meeting.
[01:53:18.200 - 01:53:25.640]
Daniel Goldman
And did Ambassador Sondland say who his agreement on this White House meeting was with?
[01:53:25.640 - 01:53:31.880]
Fiona Hill
In that particular juncture, I don't believe so. It was later, I'm sure you'll want to talk about, that he did say more specifically.
[01:53:31.880 - 01:53:39.120]
Daniel Goldman
And what did he say later?
[01:53:39.120 - 01:53:40.440]
Fiona Hill
Later, he said that he had an agreement with Chief of Staff Mulvaney that in return for investigations, this meeting would get scheduled.
[01:53:40.440 - 01:53:49.080]
Daniel Goldman
And was he specific at that point later about the investigations that he was referring to?
[01:53:49.080 - 01:53:54.160]
Fiona Hill
He said the investigations in Burisma.
[01:53:54.160 - 01:53:56.080]
Daniel Goldman
Now, did you have a conversation with Ambassador Bolton after this subsequent meeting with Ambassador Sondland?
[01:53:56.080 - 01:54:02.200]
Fiona Hill
I had a discussion with Ambassador Bolton both after the meeting in his office, a very brief one, and then one immediately after was the subsequent meeting.
[01:54:02.200 - 01:54:10.440]
Daniel Goldman
So the subsequent meeting -- or after both meetings when you spoke to him and relayed to him what Ambassador Sondland said, what did Ambassador Bolton say to you?
[01:54:10.440 - 01:54:20.680]
Fiona Hill
Well, I just want to highlight, first of all, that Ambassador Bolton wanted me to hold back in the room immediately after the meeting. Again, I was sitting on the sofa with a colleague --
[01:54:20.680 - 01:54:31.400]
Daniel Goldman
Right. But just in that second meeting, what did he say?
[01:54:31.400 - 01:54:33.360]
Fiona Hill
Yes, but he was -- he was making a very strong point that he wanted to know exactly what was being said. And when I came back and related it to him, he had some very specific instructions for me. And I'm presuming that that's the question that you're asking.
[01:54:33.360 - 01:54:46.000]
Daniel Goldman
What was the specific instruction?
[01:54:46.000 - 01:54:47.680]
Fiona Hill
The specific instruction was that I had to go to the lawyers, to John Eisenberg, our senior counsel for the National Security Council, to basically say, you tell Eisenberg, Ambassador Bolton told me, that I am not part of this whatever drug deal that Mulvaney and Sondland are cooking up.
[01:54:47.680 - 01:55:04.720]
Daniel Goldman
What did you understand him to mean by the drug deal that Mulvaney and Sondland were cooking up?
[01:55:04.720 - 01:55:10.560]
Fiona Hill
I took it to mean investigations for a meeting.
[01:55:10.560 - 01:55:13.560]
Daniel Goldman
Did you go speak to the lawyers?
[01:55:13.560 - 01:55:17.080]
Fiona Hill
I certainly did.
[01:55:17.080 - 01:55:18.160]
Daniel Goldman
And you relayed everything that you just told us and more?
[01:55:18.160 - 01:55:22.920]
Fiona Hill
I relayed it, precisely, and then more of the details of how the meeting had unfolded as well which I gave a full description of this in my October 14 deposition.
[01:55:22.920 - 01:55:31.440]
Daniel Goldman
Mr. Holmes, you have testified that by late August, you had a clear impression that the security assistance hold was somehow connected to the investigations that President Trump wanted. How did you conclude -- how did you reach that clear conclusion?
[01:55:31.440 - 01:55:51.280]
David Holmes
Sir, we'd been hearing about the investigation since March, months before, and we'd been -- President Zelensky had received a letter, a congratulatory letter from the President saying he would be pleased to meet him following his inauguration in May. And we hadn't been able to get that meeting, and then the security hold came up with no explanation.
[01:55:51.280 - 01:56:20.480]

And I'd be surprised if any of the Ukranians, you said earlier or we discussed earlier, you know sophisticated people, when they received no explanation for why that hold was in place, they would have drawn that conclusion.
[01:56:20.480 - 01:56:33.960]
Daniel Goldman
Because the investigations were still being pursued?
[01:56:33.960 - 01:56:36.640]
David Holmes
[01:56:36.640 - 01:56:37.000]
Daniel Goldman
And the hold was still remaining without explanation?
[01:56:37.000 - 01:56:40.240]
David Holmes
[01:56:40.240 - 01:56:40.680]
Daniel Goldman
So this, to you, was the only logical conclusion that you could reach?
[01:56:40.680 - 01:56:44.480]
David Holmes
[01:56:44.480 - 01:56:44.880]
Daniel Goldman
Sort of like 2 plus 2 equals 4?
[01:56:44.880 - 01:56:47.520]
David Holmes
[01:56:47.520 - 01:56:48.240]
Daniel Goldman
Chairman, I yield.
[01:56:48.240 - 01:56:49.600]
Adam B. Schiff
That concludes the majority questioning. We are expected to have votes, I think, fairly soon. This will be an appropriate time to break, and we'll resume with the minority in 45 minutes. If people before they leave could allow the witnesses to leave first, and if committee members could come back promptly after votes.
[01:56:49.600 - 01:57:11.400]

The committee stands in recess.
[01:57:11.400 - 01:57:50.080]
[01:57:50.080 - 01:57:50.120]
Adam B. Schiff
The committee will come to order. The chair now recognizes the ranking member or their counsel for the first round of their 45-minute questions.
[01:57:50.120 - 01:58:38.440]
Devin Nunes
I thank the gentleman. I want to get a few basic facts on the table of individuals that were involved in the 2016 election, just to see who you know and who you've met with. So I'll start with you, Mr. Holmes. Have you met with or do you know Alexandra Chalupa?
[01:58:38.440 - 01:59:04.240]
David Holmes
[01:59:04.240 - 01:59:06.560]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Holmes, could you put your microphone on?
[01:59:06.560 - 01:59:09.320]
David Holmes
[01:59:09.320 - 01:59:10.720]
Devin Nunes
Do you know Nellie Ohr? Have you met with Nellie Ohr?
[01:59:10.720 - 01:59:16.600]
David Holmes
[01:59:16.600 - 01:59:18.120]
Devin Nunes
Bruce Ohr?
[01:59:18.120 - 01:59:19.880]
David Holmes
[01:59:19.880 - 01:59:20.640]
Devin Nunes
Glenn Simpson?
[01:59:20.640 - 01:59:22.800]
David Holmes
[01:59:22.800 - 01:59:23.400]
Devin Nunes
Thank you. Same question for you, Dr. Hill. Do you know or have you met with Alexandra Chalupa?
[01:59:23.400 - 01:59:30.040]
Fiona Hill
[01:59:30.040 - 01:59:30.720]
Devin Nunes
Nellie Ohr?
[01:59:30.720 - 01:59:32.760]
Fiona Hill
[01:59:32.760 - 01:59:33.080]
Devin Nunes
Bruce Ohr?
[01:59:33.080 - 01:59:34.360]
Fiona Hill
Only in the course of my previous position as the national intelligence officer for Russia, where he attended some of the meetings I presided over.
[01:59:34.360 - 01:59:41.840]
Devin Nunes
Years ago?
[01:59:41.840 - 01:59:43.800]
Fiona Hill
That's a long time ago, correct.
[01:59:43.800 - 01:59:45.560]
Devin Nunes
Glenn Simpson?
[01:59:45.560 - 01:59:46.360]
Fiona Hill
[01:59:46.360 - 01:59:47.080]
Devin Nunes
Dr. Hill, in your testimony, you said that -- in your deposition, excuse me -- that Christopher Steele was your counterpart at one time. Is this correct?
[01:59:47.080 - 02:00:05.360]
Fiona Hill
That's correct, yes.
[02:00:05.360 - 02:00:06.440]
Devin Nunes
You testified that you met with Christopher Steele in 2016. I assume that's still correct?
[02:00:06.440 - 02:00:14.280]
Fiona Hill
That's correct, yes.
[02:00:14.280 - 02:00:15.240]
Devin Nunes
And the only thing we didn't get on that is, do you know about when that was in 2016 and how many times?
[02:00:15.240 - 02:00:21.960]
Fiona Hill
I'm afraid I don't. I actually had met with him -- well, you asked me actually in the deposition when the most recent time that I had met with him in 2016?
[02:00:21.960 - 02:00:30.040]
Devin Nunes
[02:00:30.040 - 02:00:30.520]
Fiona Hill
And he retired from the British intelligence services in 2009, which is the same time --
[02:00:30.520 - 02:00:35.000]
Devin Nunes
Right. I'm asking about 2016.
[02:00:35.000 - 02:00:36.600]
Fiona Hill
2016, I don't recall, but I did meet with him some times before 2016.
[02:00:36.600 - 02:00:41.160]
Devin Nunes
But you don't remember the date?
[02:00:41.160 - 02:00:43.080]
Fiona Hill
I don't, I'm afraid, no.
[02:00:43.080 - 02:00:44.240]
Devin Nunes
Okay. You stated in your deposition that a colleague had showed you the Steele dossier before it was published. Who was that colleague?
[02:00:44.240 - 02:00:54.840]
Fiona Hill
That was one of my colleagues at the Brookings Institution.
[02:00:54.840 - 02:00:57.920]
Devin Nunes
And who was that?
[02:00:57.920 - 02:00:59.520]
Fiona Hill
That was the Brookings Institution president, Strobe Talbott, who had been sent a copy of this.
[02:00:59.520 - 02:01:05.240]
Devin Nunes
And he shared it with you?
[02:01:05.240 - 02:01:06.880]
Fiona Hill
That was the day before it was published in BuzzFeed.
[02:01:06.880 - 02:01:09.240]
Devin Nunes
You mentioned in your deposition also that you thought that it was a -- let's get the exact quote -- that the dossier was a rabbit hole. Is that still your testimony?
[02:01:09.240 - 02:01:23.280]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[02:01:23.280 - 02:01:23.960]
Devin Nunes
Do you know who paid Christopher Steele to do -- to generate the Steele dossiers? There were several of them.
[02:01:23.960 - 02:01:34.360]
Fiona Hill
At the time I did not know. I understand from the media that it was through GPS Fusion. If that's not correct --
[02:01:34.360 - 02:01:41.120]
Devin Nunes
Do you know who was -- and there was a law firm involved, but you know who the source of the money was?
[02:01:41.120 - 02:01:46.320]
Fiona Hill
I didn't at the time, no, I didn't know.
[02:01:46.320 - 02:01:47.920]
Devin Nunes
Do you know who --
[02:01:47.920 - 02:01:48.480]
Fiona Hill
Well, now I've read it in reports, and thanks to your colleagues as well, that it was the DNC, as I'm led to believe.
[02:01:48.480 - 02:01:55.440]
Devin Nunes
And the Clinton campaign?
[02:01:55.440 - 02:01:56.760]
Fiona Hill
I don't know that for sure.
[02:01:56.760 - 02:01:58.320]
Devin Nunes
Okay. Mr. Castor.
[02:01:58.320 - 02:02:01.680]
Steve Castor
Good afternoon. Welcome back from lunch. Hope you had some sandwiches or something delicious.
[02:02:01.680 - 02:02:07.560]
Fiona Hill
Hope you did, too.
[02:02:07.560 - 02:02:09.000]
Steve Castor
Dr. Hill, thank you for your service. And also thank you for your participation in the deposition on October 14th, Columbus Day. We were with you most of the day, so I appreciate that. Mr. Holmes, thank you as well. You're a late entrant into this situation, and things sure did escalate quickly. We spoke with you last Friday night about what we thought was going to be a 30-second vignette about a 2-minute phone call, and turns out, you know, with your 40-minute opener today, you have a lot of information to share.
[02:02:09.000 - 02:02:48.480]

So we appreciate you being here. Dr. Hill, your last day at the National Security Council was July 19th. Is that correct?
[02:02:48.480 - 02:02:56.240]
Fiona Hill
That's correct, yes.
[02:02:56.240 - 02:02:57.440]
Steve Castor
So you weren't involved with the July 25th call and you weren't involved with any of the relevant activities related to the pause in the aid?
[02:02:57.440 - 02:03:07.680]
Fiona Hill
I was not, that's correct.
[02:03:07.680 - 02:03:10.800]
Steve Castor
And as of July 19th, did you believe that a call was going to be scheduled for the 25th?
[02:03:10.800 - 02:03:17.200]
Fiona Hill
I personally did not believe that it was going to be scheduled at that date, no.
[02:03:17.200 - 02:03:21.520]
Steve Castor
And what was the thinking at the NSC as of July 19th about such a call?
[02:03:21.520 - 02:03:26.640]
Fiona Hill
Well, I've learned from other depositions, to be clear here, that perhaps there was some awareness that there might be a call. Ambassador Sondland, if you may recall, showed an exchange with the person who was taking over for my position, Tim Morrison, in which he indicated that there would be a call coming up. I was not aware of that.
[02:03:26.640 - 02:03:45.080]
Steve Castor
Okay. Were you in favor of --
[02:03:45.080 - 02:03:45.920]
Fiona Hill
And there were differences, let's just say, obviously, and understanding about that call.
[02:03:45.920 - 02:03:49.840]
Steve Castor
And were you in favor of such a call as of the 19th?
[02:03:49.840 - 02:03:52.720]
Fiona Hill
Actually, I was not, and I did say something about that in the opening part of the sessions today.
[02:03:52.720 - 02:03:57.160]
Steve Castor
Okay. And how about Ambassador Bolton, to your knowledge?
[02:03:57.160 - 02:03:59.880]
Fiona Hill
Well, I know that Ambassador Sondland said in that email that Bolton was in agreement. To my knowledge, Bolton was not in agreement at that particular juncture, to my knowledge.
[02:03:59.880 - 02:04:09.760]
Steve Castor
And do you know what his opposition was?
[02:04:09.760 - 02:04:11.120]
Fiona Hill
It was based on the fact that he didn't feel the call had been properly prepared, and as I said earlier, that we wanted to make sure there was going to be a fulsome bilateral U.S.-Ukraine agenda that was discussed, which is usual with these calls.
[02:04:11.120 - 02:04:23.080]
Steve Castor
And you -- were you surprised that a call ultimately was scheduled?
[02:04:23.080 - 02:04:28.600]
Fiona Hill
I was when I learned about it, that's right.
[02:04:28.600 - 02:04:30.840]
Steve Castor
And did you have any communications with anyone back at your old staff with -- about how that came to be?
[02:04:30.840 - 02:04:36.040]
Fiona Hill
I did not, no.
[02:04:36.040 - 02:04:36.840]
Steve Castor
Okay. You did learn about the pause in the security assistance aid shortly before --
[02:04:36.840 - 02:04:42.720]
Fiona Hill
I learned about that on July 18th, so the day before I left, that's correct.
[02:04:42.720 - 02:04:46.560]
Steve Castor
Okay. And there were several meetings about this, I believe you testified to.
[02:04:46.560 - 02:04:51.880]
Fiona Hill
I said that I knew there was going to be a meeting in that timeframe, and there was one put onto the schedule for the following week. But, of course, I had left and so I didn't attend that.
[02:04:51.880 - 02:05:01.120]
Steve Castor
And is it fair to say that stops and starts in aid like this sometimes do happen?
[02:05:01.120 - 02:05:06.800]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[02:05:06.800 - 02:05:07.640]
Steve Castor
And I believe you had testified that there was a freeze put on all kinds of aid and assistance because it was in the process -- at that time there were significant reviews of foreign assistance going on?
[02:05:07.640 - 02:05:21.240]
Fiona Hill
That's also correct, yes.
[02:05:21.240 - 02:05:22.360]
Steve Castor
What else can you tell us about that?
[02:05:22.360 - 02:05:24.000]
Fiona Hill
About the foreign assistance review?
[02:05:24.000 - 02:05:25.720]
Steve Castor
[02:05:25.720 - 02:05:27.000]
Fiona Hill
As I understood them, there had been a directive for whole-scale review of our foreign policy, foreign policy assistance, and the ties between our foreign policy objectives and the assistance. This had been going on actually for many months. And in the period when I was wrapping up my time there, there had been more scrutiny than specific assistance to specific sets of countries as a result of that overall view -- review.
[02:05:27.000 - 02:05:52.200]
Steve Castor
And at this time, as well, Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, they had become a little bit more involved with Ukraine policy?
[02:05:52.200 - 02:06:01.720]
Fiona Hill
Well, Ambassador Volker was always involved in Ukraine policy, at least since the beginning of his appointment as the special envoy for negotiations towards the war between Ukraine and Russia in Donbas.
[02:06:01.720 - 02:06:14.080]
Steve Castor
And what can you tell us about Ambassador Volker?
[02:06:14.080 - 02:06:16.160]
Fiona Hill
Ambassador Volker is an extraordinarily accomplished diplomat. I've worked with him in many capacities previously. You know, his bio, he's been the Ambassador to NATO. He's had a number of positions at the State Department. And actually I know him personally. So, you know, and the truth that we're trying to get at is who knows who and who's met.
[02:06:16.160 - 02:06:36.520]

I know Ambassador Volker really well, on a personal level as well.
[02:06:36.520 - 02:06:39.320]
Steve Castor
Okay. And you said he's a man of integrity?
[02:06:39.320 - 02:06:41.760]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[02:06:41.760 - 02:06:42.880]
Steve Castor
And always acted in of the best interest of the United States?
[02:06:42.880 - 02:06:45.040]
Fiona Hill
Absolutely, yes.
[02:06:45.040 - 02:06:45.920]
Steve Castor
When did you first learn of Ambassador Sondland's involvement?
[02:06:45.920 - 02:06:48.480]
Fiona Hill
Well, it came in different ways. Ambassador Sondland, as the Ambassador to the EU, had some perfectly logical involvement in the Ukraine portfolio. We work very closely with the European Union on matters related to Ukraine. The Ukrainian dialogue with Russia was in a format known as the Minsk Process, which was led by the French and the Germans.
[02:06:48.480 - 02:07:15.200]

And Ambassador Volker was trying to find out ways in which he could work closely with the French and Germans to move along the resolution of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. And obviously the European Union, as the umbrella organization for Europe in terms of funding and assistance, was heavily active in offering financial assistance to the Ukrainian government, as well as humanitarian assistance in the conflict.
[02:07:15.200 - 02:07:42.760]

So it was perfectly logical that Ambassador Sondland would play some kind of role as our ambassador to the European Union.
[02:07:42.760 - 02:07:50.440]
Steve Castor
Did you have any concerns when he presented himself to you as somebody with a major role?
[02:07:50.440 - 02:07:57.960]
Fiona Hill
I did at the time in which he presented it to me. This was after Ambassador Yovanovitch had been pushed out of her position. And it was at that juncture that Ambassador Sondland's role seemed to grow larger.
[02:07:57.960 - 02:08:11.360]
Steve Castor
And did you express any concerns to him directly?
[02:08:11.360 - 02:08:14.320]
Fiona Hill
I did express concerns to him directly.
[02:08:14.320 - 02:08:16.120]
Steve Castor
What were those concerns?
[02:08:16.120 - 02:08:17.200]
Fiona Hill
I asked him quite bluntly in a meeting that we had in June of 2019, so this is after the Presidential inauguration when I had seen that he had started to step up in much more of a proactive role on Ukraine, you know, what was his role here. And he said that he was in charge of Ukraine. And I said, well, who put you in charge, Ambassador Sondland.
[02:08:17.200 - 02:08:39.800]

And he said, the President.
[02:08:39.800 - 02:08:40.800]
Steve Castor
And did it surprise you when he told you that?
[02:08:40.800 - 02:08:42.880]
Fiona Hill
It did surprise me. We'd had no directive. We hadn't been told this. Ambassador Bolton had never indicated in any way that he thought that Ambassador Sondland was playing a leading role in Ukraine.
[02:08:42.880 - 02:08:53.960]
Steve Castor
All right. And I believe you used the term a large remit, that he characterized he had been given a large remit from the President?
[02:08:53.960 - 02:09:01.400]
Fiona Hill
I can't remember whether I said remit, but it was portfolio. He was constantly -- you know, these are all synonyms -- he was talking to us about the fact that he'd been given a very broad portfolio by the President. He said his job was to go out and make deals in Europe. And as you know yourself, I listened to his testimony yesterday very carefully as well, he said that anything that had to do with the EU itself and the European Union member states was within his portfolio.
[02:09:01.400 - 02:09:26.720]
Steve Castor
All right. We asked Ambassador Sondland about that at his deposition, and he conceded that he may have been spinning a little bit when he said that the President specifically gave him that role. And he indicated that his authority was coming at least a little bit from -- more from the Secretary of State.
[02:09:26.720 - 02:09:46.080]

At any point in time was that related to you?
[02:09:46.080 - 02:09:49.080]
Fiona Hill
At different points he mentioned talking directly to the Chief of Staff Mulvaney, and he also talked about Secretary Pompeo. But he was very -- in fact, there were other people in the room, in the meeting in which he asserted this to me, that it was the President who had put him in charge of this.
[02:09:49.080 - 02:10:05.920]
Steve Castor
Were you encouraged as of your last day in the office that U.S. policy towards the Ukraine was headed in the right direction?
[02:10:05.920 - 02:10:14.040]
Fiona Hill
I was not.
[02:10:14.040 - 02:10:15.440]
Steve Castor
And why was that?
[02:10:15.440 - 02:10:16.560]
Fiona Hill
Well, I was concerned about two things in particular. One was, again, the removal of our ambassador. And again, I will say for the record that the President has a perfect right to remove any ambassador at any time for any reason. But I was very concerned about the circumstances in which her reputation had been maligned, repeatedly, on television and in all kinds of exchanges.
[02:10:16.560 - 02:10:41.560]

I felt that that was completely unnecessary. If the President wanted to remove an ambassador, which he did quite frequently, there was a number of ambassadors removed who were not political but career officials, that was done, but without these kinds of interventions. I wondered what that message was being sent.
[02:10:41.560 - 02:10:56.600]

So there was that. And then on the second front, it was very clear at this point that there was, let's just say, a different channel in operation in relations to Ukraine, one that was domestic and political in nature, and it was very different from the channel or the loop, however you like it, that I and my colleagues were in, where we were focused on bilateral relations and U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine.
[02:10:56.600 - 02:11:21.000]

And these two things had diverged at this point.
[02:11:21.000 - 02:11:23.720]
Steve Castor
In the run-up to Ambassador Yovanovitch's separation from post, did you have any communications with officials at the State Department about your concerns?
[02:11:23.720 - 02:11:32.360]
Fiona Hill
I did.
[02:11:32.360 - 02:11:32.960]
Steve Castor
And who did you relate those concerns to?
[02:11:32.960 - 02:11:35.680]
Fiona Hill
I related those concerns directly to my counterpart, who was Acting Assistant Secretary Phil Reeker, who I know you've spoken to. I also spoke to David Hale in the context of, you know, larger meetings about many other issues. I mean, again, I covered a broad portfolio myself, and we often would talk about individual items.
[02:11:35.680 - 02:11:55.560]

And I had private discussions with Deputy Secretary Sullivan. And he, of course, has appeared before committees here in the course of his nomination to be ambassador to Russia and has spoken about that himself.
[02:11:55.560 - 02:12:08.000]
Steve Castor
Okay. And you advocated to all those officials about your concerns about the information being spread about Ambassador Yovanovitch?
[02:12:08.000 - 02:12:17.040]
Fiona Hill
I did, that's correct.
[02:12:17.040 - 02:12:18.920]
Steve Castor
The Trump administration changed courses from its predecessor and provided lethal defensive assistance to the Ukraine. Were you in favor of arming the Ukrainians with the Javelins?
[02:12:18.920 - 02:12:31.120]
Fiona Hill
I was not initially in 2015 before I joined the government, and I'm sure that many people on the committee have seen that I wrote an opinion piece with a colleague at the Brookings Institution in that juncture, because I was very worried at that particular point in time that the Ukrainian military was not in a fit state to really take on board sophisticated weapons, be they defensive or offensive weapons.
[02:12:31.120 - 02:12:54.560]

And I worried that there was not a long-term sustainable plan, given the overwhelming force that the Russians could apply against the Ukrainians. However, when I came into government in 2017 and started to interact with all of my colleagues in the Pentagon -- and you had Laura Cooper here yesterday -- I realized, in fact, that there had been an awful lot of work done on this and that there was a clear and consistent plan for the sustainability long-term of the Ukrainian military.
[02:12:54.560 - 02:13:21.440]

So I changed my mind.
[02:13:21.440 - 02:13:22.560]
Steve Castor
Okay. And you're, in fact, one of the -- I believe the only witness that we've spoken to that has been able to articulate the opposition to providing the Javelins. And as we understand it, during the Obama administration the interagency consensus was, in fact, to provide the Javelins, but they were not provided.
[02:13:22.560 - 02:13:41.000]

Were you aware of the decision back then?
[02:13:41.000 - 02:13:42.600]
Fiona Hill
I was, and I think it was very much made on a political basis about concerns that this would provoke the Russians, depending on how this was presented. And we were very mindful of that also when there were the discussions internally about the lethal defensive weapons inside of the administration.
[02:13:42.600 - 02:13:59.600]
Steve Castor
Mr. Holmes, you're on the ground in Kyiv, and the Javelins have now been authorized, provided. What's the view from the field, the U.S. Embassy, as to the effectiveness of the Javelins?
[02:13:59.600 - 02:14:14.600]
David Holmes
They're an important strategic deterrent. They're not actively employed in combat operations right now, but the mere idea that were the Russians to advance substantially using certain kinds of armor, that the Ukrainians would have this capability, deters them from doing so. It also thereby sends a very important symbol -- symbolic message to the Ukrainian military that they have access to this high-end technology and that we trust them to do it. I'd only add also, they've offered to buy some using their own funds.
[02:14:14.600 - 02:14:46.040]

The initial tranche was provided through basically a program to do that, but they have now offered to spend their own money to buy more. So I think they think they're important.
[02:14:46.040 - 02:14:53.280]
Steve Castor
And Ambassador Taylor has testified, Mr. Kent has testified that this is, in fact, the consensus of the interagency, providing the Javelins. Is it the -- in your experience working with Ambassador Taylor, was he also very much an advocate for this?
[02:14:53.280 - 02:15:11.760]
David Holmes
[02:15:11.760 - 02:15:12.360]
Devin Nunes
Mr. Holmes, I want to go back to -- named some Americans. Now I want to talk a little bit about Ukrainians, Ukrainian government officials.
[02:15:12.360 - 02:15:32.120]
David Holmes
[02:15:32.120 - 02:15:33.560]
Devin Nunes
Are you familiar with Serhiy Leshchenko?
[02:15:33.560 - 02:15:35.680]
David Holmes
[02:15:35.680 - 02:15:36.280]
Devin Nunes
Have you met with him?
[02:15:36.280 - 02:15:38.000]
David Holmes
I have.
[02:15:38.000 - 02:15:38.600]
Devin Nunes
Okay. He was a journalist, then he was in the Parliament. Is he currently in the Parliament?
[02:15:38.600 - 02:15:45.440]
David Holmes
Journalist again.
[02:15:45.440 - 02:15:46.720]
Devin Nunes
Journalist again. Are you aware that when he was in the Parliament, that he had provided information to a Fusion GPS operative named Nellie Ohr.
[02:15:46.720 - 02:16:01.280]
David Holmes
I'm not aware of Nellie Ohr. I'm not aware of who he provided information to. I'm aware that as a journalist he's provided information.
[02:16:01.280 - 02:16:10.560]
Devin Nunes
Well, this is -- he was in the Parliament at the time. This was in the 2016 campaign. He provided widely known as the black ledger. Have you ever heard of the black ledger?
[02:16:10.560 - 02:16:22.560]
David Holmes
I have.
[02:16:22.560 - 02:16:24.080]
Devin Nunes
And the black ledger, is that seen as credible information?
[02:16:24.080 - 02:16:28.680]
David Holmes
[02:16:28.680 - 02:16:29.320]
Devin Nunes
The black ledger is credible?
[02:16:29.320 - 02:16:31.080]
David Holmes
[02:16:31.080 - 02:16:31.720]
Devin Nunes
Bob Mueller did not find it credible. Do you dispute what Bob Mueller's findings were? They didn't use it in the prosecution or in the report.
[02:16:31.720 - 02:16:42.320]
David Holmes
I'm not aware that Bob Mueller did not find it credible. I think it was evidence in other criminal proceedings, and its credibility was not questioned in those proceedings. But I'm not an expert on that matter.
[02:16:42.320 - 02:16:52.760]
Devin Nunes
So the motivation for Leshchenko was reported to -- was to go after a Trump campaign official and undermine Trump's candidacy. Are you aware of that?
[02:16:52.760 - 02:17:04.360]
David Holmes
If you mean by the release of the black ledger, I think Leshchenko's motivation was the same motivation he's always expressed, which is to expose corruption in Ukraine.
[02:17:04.360 - 02:17:14.400]
Devin Nunes
Right. But he's admitted motivation was to partly at least undermine the Trump candidacy that he did not support.
[02:17:14.400 - 02:17:21.960]
David Holmes
He has not said that to me. If he said that to you, I'll take your word for it.
[02:17:21.960 - 02:17:33.160]
Devin Nunes
And you're aware that the -- you heard Dr. Hill's testimony that the Steele dossier, that contained initially that initial information that was fed in the FBI. Were you aware that the Democrats had paid for that information?
[02:17:33.160 - 02:17:48.960]
David Holmes
So, sir, I never had any involvement directly with --
[02:17:48.960 - 02:17:51.880]
Devin Nunes
I'm not accusing you of involvement. I'm just asking if you -- and not even if you knew at the time, but you now know today that the Democrats had paid for that information?
[02:17:51.880 - 02:18:00.000]
David Holmes
So I do want to be clear that all that happened before I arrived in Ukraine. So I don't have any firsthand --
[02:18:00.000 - 02:18:04.240]
Devin Nunes
Not accusing any involvement of you with the Steele dossier.
[02:18:04.240 - 02:18:06.840]
David Holmes
Understood. But I do want to be clear about that. And then in addition, I have read about those issues, but I'm not an expert on them.
[02:18:06.840 - 02:18:16.280]
Devin Nunes
But you're not disputing that the Democrats and the Clinton campaign were the source of funds that funded the Steele dossier?
[02:18:16.280 - 02:18:24.160]
David Holmes
I wouldn't be in a position to dispute that, sir.
[02:18:24.160 - 02:18:25.840]
Devin Nunes
Do you think it's appropriate for political parties to run operatives in foreign countries to dig up dirt on their opponents?
[02:18:25.840 - 02:18:36.280]
David Holmes
[02:18:36.280 - 02:18:37.760]
Devin Nunes
Dr. Hill, do you think it's appropriate for political parties to pay operatives to dig up dirt on their opponents?
[02:18:37.760 - 02:18:44.840]
Fiona Hill
I do not.
[02:18:44.840 - 02:18:45.480]
Devin Nunes
Mr. Castor.
[02:18:45.480 - 02:18:49.240]
Steve Castor
I want to turn to President Zelensky's inauguration. Ambassador Volker testified that he was very pleased with the size of the delegation. Although the Vice President was unable to make the trip, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland -- and I understand, Dr. Hill, you were involved with some of the logistics in putting the delegation together.
[02:18:49.240 - 02:19:13.760]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[02:19:13.760 - 02:19:14.880]
Steve Castor
What can you tell us about the Vice President's role in attending or not attending?
[02:19:14.880 - 02:19:23.200]
Fiona Hill
Well, I know that you've heard the testimony of Jennifer Williams from the Vice President's office, and I defer to her as being much closer to the decisionmaking about the Vice President's attendance. I will say that I, and many others, hoped that the Vice President would be able to attend. What I know from my perspective, because I was not involved intimately in discussions with the Vice President or his immediate staff, was that there were some questions about the schedule.
[02:19:23.200 - 02:19:48.720]

As you all know, the President and Vice President cannot be out of the country at the same time. And there were some questions about Presidential travel in the same timeframe. And, you know, there was quite a bit of back-and-forth as to whether it would be really feasible for the Vice President in that timeframe to go. So that was what I was aware of. I wasn't aware to the extent of the discussions that obviously Ms. Williams was involved in.
[02:19:48.720 - 02:20:13.640]
Steve Castor
Right. The President was in traveling in Japan, and then he was headed to Europe for the D-Day Anniversary. The Vice President's office, according to Ms. Williams, provided 4 days at the end of May, the 29th, 30th, 31st, June 1st. And as it turned out, the Ukrainians decided -- I believe it was on May 16th -- to schedule the inauguration for 4 days later.
[02:20:13.640 - 02:20:36.800]

And by this point in time, the Vice President had been rerouted for a trip to Canada about the USMCA. And just want to ask you whether, you don't have any evidence that the Vice President was encouraged not to attend for any other reason, do you?
[02:20:36.800 - 02:21:01.160]
Fiona Hill
I personally do not, but again, I defer to Ms. Williams.
[02:21:01.160 - 02:21:04.160]
Steve Castor
The -- and Ms. Williams' testimony was that she just -- she heard from the chief of staff's assistant that the Vice President was not able to go. The leap that the reason for that was related to any of these investigations hasn't been fully established. I want to just note, from the materials you provided for your deposition, there is discussion whether President Orban may have influenced President Trump's decision on that May 13th day.
[02:21:04.160 - 02:21:40.240]

Do you remember when the meeting was with President Orban?
[02:21:40.240 - 02:21:44.360]
Fiona Hill
I do.
[02:21:44.360 - 02:21:45.240]
Steve Castor
When was that?
[02:21:45.240 - 02:21:46.160]
Fiona Hill
That was in May, that's correct.
[02:21:46.160 - 02:21:48.080]
Steve Castor
But do you remember what time of day it was on the 13th?
[02:21:48.080 - 02:21:50.200]
Fiona Hill
To be honest, usually these meetings are around lunch time, sometime in that timeframe, in the kind of early to mid-part of the day. But I can't speak for sure, and I just want to be very clear that I cannot speak about head of state engagements.
[02:21:50.200 - 02:22:08.240]
Steve Castor
Okay. Jennifer Williams testified that she learned about 11 or 11:15 the meeting with President Orban was not scheduled until later in the afternoon. According to your schedule it was right around 1:45. Is that consistent with your recollection?
[02:22:08.240 - 02:22:24.040]
Fiona Hill
Right about the lunchtime timeframe, yeah, depending on when one has lunch, I guess.
[02:22:24.040 - 02:22:27.600]
Steve Castor
Okay. But overall, given the 4 days' notice, given Secretary Perry's involvement, do you think the delegation was a good sized group?
[02:22:27.600 - 02:22:41.120]
Fiona Hill
I do. And let me also make a point that we don't try to make these delegations large. This is on the taxpayers' dime, and it's pretty expensive getting people there if you have to get military air, and you know, we try to keep them small. If we had a longer lead time, you know, perhaps we would have made other arrangements, but, you know, 4 days is not a lot of time to make an arrangement.
[02:22:41.120 - 02:23:03.480]
Steve Castor
And Secretary Perry had become interested in some of the energy-related issues in the Ukraine?
[02:23:03.480 - 02:23:07.920]
Fiona Hill
I actually recommended that Secretary Perry be the lead, along with others.
[02:23:07.920 - 02:23:11.560]
Steve Castor
And what can you tell us about his involvement in some of the Ukrainian policy?
[02:23:11.560 - 02:23:16.680]
Fiona Hill
Well, Secretary's Perry's engagement -- and this made, again, perfect sense, given his role as Secretary of Energy, also his deep knowledge of the energy industry, his former governorship. You know, Secretary Perry himself is an extraordinarily good advocate of U.S. interests, particularly in the energy sphere.
[02:23:16.680 - 02:23:35.920]

And one of Ukraine's Achilles' heel, in addition to its military disadvantage with Russia, is in fact energy. Ukraine remains for now the main transit point for Russian oil and gas and pipelines to Europe, and this has been manipulated repeatedly, especially since 2006, by the Russian government. And, in fact, I mean, many of you here will remember, in the Reagan era there was a huge dispute between the United States and Europe about the -- about whether it made sense for Europe to build pipelines from the then Soviet Union to bring gas to European markets.
[02:23:35.920 - 02:24:16.520]
Steve Castor
Mr. Holmes, what was your view of the delegation? Do you think it was the right sized group, right level of prestige to signal to the incoming Zelensky administration that the U.S. stands behind them?
[02:24:16.520 - 02:24:31.040]
David Holmes
I think it was fine in that regard.
[02:24:31.040 - 02:24:32.040]
Steve Castor
[02:24:32.040 - 02:24:33.680]
Devin Nunes
Since we're on the topic of Ukraine energy, I think it's a good way for us to segue into Burisma, which I assume both of you are familiar with. You've heard about it for many, many years. You're on the ground there now, Mr. Holmes. I know you weren't there at the time, but in September 2015 then Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, Obama-appointed career ambassador -- I'm sure you know him.
[02:24:33.680 - 02:25:07.200]
David Holmes
I do.
[02:25:07.200 - 02:25:07.800]
Devin Nunes
[02:25:07.800 - 02:25:08.880]
David Holmes
[02:25:08.880 - 02:25:09.480]
Devin Nunes
Successful ambassador, I'm sure. He called for an investigation into Zlochevsky, the owner of Burisma, the president of Burisma. Are you familiar with that?
[02:25:09.480 - 02:25:20.920]
David Holmes
[02:25:20.920 - 02:25:21.240]
Devin Nunes
Did you know about Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kent's concerns about the potential conflict of interest with Hunter Biden sitting on the board of Burisma?
[02:25:21.240 - 02:25:33.440]
David Holmes
I would defer to George Kent, who was involved at the time and is an expert on those issues.
[02:25:33.440 - 02:25:39.800]
Devin Nunes
Did you know that the financial records show that this Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma, routed more than $3 million to the American accounts of Hunter Biden?
[02:25:39.800 - 02:25:50.840]
David Holmes
I've heard that.
[02:25:50.840 - 02:25:53.520]
Devin Nunes
Were you familiar with that, Dr. Hill?
[02:25:53.520 - 02:25:55.360]
Fiona Hill
Only from newspaper reports.
[02:25:55.360 - 02:25:57.000]
Devin Nunes
Okay. Did you know that Burisma's American -- and this is back to you, Mr. Holmes -- did you know that Burisma's American legal representatives met with Ukrainian officials just days after the Vice President forced the firing of the country's chief prosecutor?
[02:25:57.000 - 02:26:11.680]
David Holmes
[02:26:11.680 - 02:26:12.840]
Devin Nunes
Did you know that Burisma's American lawyers tried to secure a meeting with the new state prosecutor the same day that predecessor Viktor Shokin's firing was announced?
[02:26:12.840 - 02:26:25.280]
David Holmes
[02:26:25.280 - 02:26:25.720]
Devin Nunes
Did you know that Joe Biden called Ukrainian President Poroshenko at least three times in February 2016, shortly after the president and owner of Burisma's home was raided on February 2nd by the state prosecutor's office?
[02:26:25.720 - 02:26:39.120]
David Holmes
[02:26:39.120 - 02:26:39.840]
Devin Nunes
Did you know that Devon Archer and Hunter Biden reached out to the deputy secretary of state, Tony Blinken, shortly after the raid on Burisma?
[02:26:39.840 - 02:26:48.520]
David Holmes
[02:26:48.520 - 02:26:49.200]
Devin Nunes
Dr. Hill, did you know about -- I don't want to go through and ask all those questions over again --
[02:26:49.200 - 02:27:00.080]
Fiona Hill
I also did not know, that's correct.
[02:27:00.080 - 02:27:01.400]
Devin Nunes
You did not know about any of this?
[02:27:01.400 - 02:27:02.600]
Fiona Hill
I did not know, no.
[02:27:02.600 - 02:27:03.120]
Devin Nunes
Okay. So you obviously know that the President had concerns about Burisma, had concerns about 2016 election meddling by the Ukrainians. When you were in there as the head of the Ukraine --
[02:27:03.120 - 02:27:19.720]
Fiona Hill
[02:27:19.720 - 02:27:19.960]
Devin Nunes
-- desk, did you ever raise any of these -- did you ever brief the President or raise it up to Ambassador Bolton about any concerns through 2017 and '18 that concerned 2016 election meddling or Burisma concerns?
[02:27:19.960 - 02:27:34.920]
Fiona Hill
The whole briefing process didn't really work in the way that you're suggesting there. So if the President had asked about any of this information, it would have been provided for him. Just to be very clear, Ukraine was not a top foreign policy priority in this period, in the same way that many other issues that we could talk about, from Syria to Turkey and others, are.
[02:27:34.920 - 02:27:59.640]

So there weren't that frequent briefings on Ukraine. The briefings would take place when there was a scheduled meeting with a Ukrainian head of state. And as we know, there haven't been too many of those.
[02:27:59.640 - 02:28:09.160]
Devin Nunes
So just to -- as far as you know, you did no briefings, no papers, answered no questions as it relates to the 2016 election or Burisma during your time there?
[02:28:09.160 - 02:28:19.560]
Fiona Hill
I did not, no.
[02:28:19.560 - 02:28:20.960]
Devin Nunes
Okay. Thank you. Mr. Castor.
[02:28:20.960 - 02:28:23.800]
Steve Castor
Dr. Hill, you told us during your deposition that, indeed, that there are perceived conflict of interest troubles when the child of a government official is involved with something that that government official has an official policy role in, correct?
[02:28:23.800 - 02:28:38.560]
Fiona Hill
I think any family member of any member of the U.S. Government, Congress or the Senate, is open to all kinds of questions about optics and of perhaps undue outside influence, if they take part in any kind of activity that could be misconstrued as being related to their parent or the family member's work.
[02:28:38.560 - 02:29:01.280]

So as a matter of course, yes, I do think that's the case.
[02:29:01.280 - 02:29:04.440]
Steve Castor
Getting back to Ambassador Sondland, you testified that every now and then he made a habit of name-dropping his interactions with the President.
[02:29:04.440 - 02:29:12.240]
Fiona Hill
That's correct, yes.
[02:29:12.240 - 02:29:13.760]
Steve Castor
And I believe you also told us that there were instances where you would run into him on the campus, and he would say, oh, I'm here to see the President, or, I've been in to see the President, and you had an occasion to circle back and found out that wasn't the case?
[02:29:13.760 - 02:29:30.680]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[02:29:30.680 - 02:29:31.440]
Steve Castor
And I just want to give you an opportunity. He testified about some sort of coffee he had with you on your last day. And I think when the deposition transcript was released, your counsel indicated that that was completely fabricated on Ambassador Sondland's part. And I just want to give you an opportunity to address that.
[02:29:31.440 - 02:29:47.320]
Fiona Hill
Yes. So, I mean, unfortunately this is the Federal Government, we don't have coffee machines, you know, readily in our office. If you had come to my office in that time, the best I could have offered you was a cup of water from the water fountain outside of my office. So, you know, the coffee that Ambassador Sondland and I shared was actually, we ran into each other -- or rather he found out I was going to be there and then asked me to meet him for coffee in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in 2018, in August.
[02:29:47.320 - 02:30:20.720]

So this is a full year before I left. That was a very nice coffee. So perhaps he, you know, conflated those two meetings together. The meeting that he was referring to, he had come in to meet with our director for the European Union. This was in my last week in the office. And as I was in the office at the same time, for a brief period, before going into another meeting, and it was my last week in the office, we agreed to sit down with the director of the European Union, with actually Colonel Vindman, and the assistant that Ambassador Sondland had brought with him from the State Department.
[02:30:20.720 - 02:30:56.080]

So there were actually four of us in that meeting, and unfortunately it wasn't over coffee.
[02:30:56.080 - 02:31:03.720]
Steve Castor
And, you know, he went on to indicate that you were upset and you were upset with Ambassador --
[02:31:03.720 - 02:31:10.360]
Fiona Hill
Actually, there were five of us really in that meeting. Obviously I can't do math. Sorry.
[02:31:10.360 - 02:31:15.760]
Steve Castor
Fair enough. He indicated you were upset and you were upset with Ambassador Bolton and upset with the way things were going. And I believe your counsel said that was an outright fabrication?
[02:31:15.760 - 02:31:30.240]
Fiona Hill
Well, I think you might recall in my deposition on October 14th that I said that very unfortunately I had a bit of a blowup with Ambassador Sondland, and I had a couple of testy encounters with him. One of those was in June 2018 when I actually said to him, Who put you in charge of Ukraine? And, you know, I'll admit, I was a bit rude.
[02:31:30.240 - 02:31:51.400]

And that's when he told me the President, which shut me up. And this other meeting, it was about 15, 20 minutes, exactly as he depicted it was. I was actually, to be honest, angry with him. And, you know, I hate to say it, but often when women show anger it's not fully appreciated. It's often, you know, pushed onto emotional issues perhaps or deflected onto other people.
[02:31:51.400 - 02:32:18.600]

And what I was angry about was that he wasn't coordinating with us. I've actually realized, having listened to his deposition, that he was absolutely right, that he wasn't coordinating with us because we weren't doing the same thing that he was doing. So I was upset with him that he wasn't fully telling us about all of the meetings that he was having.
[02:32:18.600 - 02:32:37.560]

And he said to me, But I am briefing the President, I'm briefing Chief of Staff Mulvaney, I'm briefing Secretary Pompeo, and I've talked to Ambassador Bolton. Who else do I have to deal with? And the point is, we have a robust interagency process that deals with Ukraine. It includes Mr. Holmes. It includes Ambassador Taylor as the charge in Ukraine.
[02:32:37.560 - 02:32:59.480]

It includes a whole load of other people. But it struck me when yesterday, when you put up on the screen Ambassador Sondland's emails and who was on these emails, and he said, These are the people who need to know, that he was absolutely right. Because he was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy, and those two things had just diverged.
[02:32:59.480 - 02:33:23.480]

So he was correct. And I had not put my finger on that at the moment, but I was irritated with him and angry with him that he wasn't fully coordinating. And I did say to him, Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up. And here we are. And after I left to my next meeting, our director for the European Union talked to him much further, for a full half hour or more later, trying to ask him about how we could coordinate better, how others could coordinate better, after I had left the office.
[02:33:23.480 - 02:33:52.760]

And his feeling was that the National Security Council was always trying to block him. What we were trying to do was block us from straying into domestic or personal politics, and that was precisely what I was trying to do. But Ambassador Sondland is not wrong that he had been given a different remit than we had been.
[02:33:52.760 - 02:34:11.720]

And it was at that moment that I started to realize how those things had diverged. And I realized, in fact, that I wasn't really being fair to Ambassador Sondland, because he was carrying out what he thought he had been instructed to carry out, and we were doing something that we thought was just as -- or perhaps even more important, but it wasn't in the same channel.
[02:34:11.720 - 02:34:31.040]
Steve Castor
Dr. Hill --
[02:34:31.040 - 02:34:32.400]
Devin Nunes
Dr. Hill, I just want to drill down on this a little bit. The President of the United States, Commander in Chief, was concerned about the 2016 elections and Burisma. He had his personal attorney working these issues because he was under investigation by Robert Mueller, special counsel, partly beginning with an investigation that started with the Steele dossier, that we've already established that the Democrats had paid for and had been fed into the FBI.
[02:34:32.400 - 02:35:10.240]

So at the end of the day, the Commander in Chief, concerned about 2016 election meddling by Ukraine, it sounds like you had just earlier testified that you weren't aware of that, but if that was the concern of the President, to try to get to the bottom of it, and it's the concern of Ambassador Sondland, who was trying to set up meetings on behalf of -- to ensure, really, that meetings occurred and phone calls occurred to strengthen the relationship, I'm a little -- I mean, I understand the people at the NSC, people at the State Department had issues with that, but at the end of the day, isn't it the Commander in Chief that makes those decisions?
[02:35:10.240 - 02:35:55.440]
Fiona Hill
My point, Mr. Nunes, is that we at the National Security Council were not told either by the President directly or through Ambassador Bolton that we were to be focused on these issues as a matter of U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine. So when you're talking about Ukraine in 2016, I never personally heard the President say anything specific about 2016 and Ukraine.
[02:35:55.440 - 02:36:19.720]

I've seen him saying plenty of things publicly, but I was not given a directive. In fact, I was given a directive on July 10th by Ambassador Bolton, very clearly, to stay out of domestic politics.
[02:36:19.720 - 02:36:30.560]
Steve Castor
Just for sake of the timeline, I think as of July 19th they hadn't even engaged with Rudy Giuliani yet. I don't believe that happened until a little bit later. So you believe by July 19th they were already engaged in those types of activities?
[02:36:30.560 - 02:36:48.640]
Fiona Hill
We had already had a discussion with Kurt Volker, which was in the depositions of his assistant Chris Anderson, that indicated that he had met with Rudy Giuliani at this point. And Ambassador Sondland made comments about meeting with Giuliani, and as we know, in the May 23rd meeting, they had been instructed to meet with Giuliani.
[02:36:48.640 - 02:37:07.440]
Steve Castor
[02:37:07.440 - 02:37:08.480]
Fiona Hill
They gave us every impression that they were meeting with Rudy Giuliani at this point, and Rudy Giuliani was also saying on the television, and indeed has said subsequently, that he was closely coordinating with the State Department.
[02:37:08.480 - 02:37:20.080]
Steve Castor
[02:37:20.080 - 02:37:20.400]
Fiona Hill
So it was my belief that they were meeting with him.
[02:37:20.400 - 02:37:22.280]
Steve Castor
Okay. And there's some -- I mean, there's some ambiguity in the direction to work with Rudy Giuliani. Ambassador Volker said the President dismissed Ukraine and said, Oh, if you want to work on it, just go talk to Rudy. And Ambassador Sondland took that a little bit differently. And I believe that Ambassador Volker was primarily the interlocutor with Mr. Giuliani, and that was happening -- didn't start until the end of July.
[02:37:22.280 - 02:37:50.400]
Fiona Hill
I only learned that subsequently from Ambassador Volker's deposition. So I just want to tell you, in that particular timeframe I was not aware of that. And in fact, Gordon Sondland did refer to Rudy Giuliani, and again, Ambassador Bolton had warned Ambassador Volker not to meet with Rudy Giuliani in a meeting.
[02:37:50.400 - 02:38:08.680]
Steve Castor
Mr. Morrison told us both in his deposition and in his public hearing that you had related concerns about Colonel Vindman's judgment?
[02:38:08.680 - 02:38:19.840]
Fiona Hill
I did not relate any concerns in general terms about Colonel Vindman's judgment. So I was somewhat surprised when I heard Mr. Morrison make that assertion when I read his deposition. There was a very specific point that was made. And again, these are personnel issues, and I'm sure that nobody here would like to have their private personnel issues put before a committee, but you've asked me about this.
[02:38:19.840 - 02:38:41.440]

So I had a couple of very short transition meetings with Mr. Morrison. And, again, Mr. Morrison did not work in our directorate. He was taking over the position, which he held for 3 months. I had worked as the director, the senior director for Europe and Eurasia, it was at the time, for more than 2 years at this point, and I'd been working for a year with Colonel Vindman, with Mr. Vindman.
[02:38:41.440 - 02:39:04.040]

And in the course of one of the meetings, sometime in the June timeframe, I sat down with Mr. Morrison and with a deputy referred to him in his deposition, John Erath, who was also working, and we went through our organizational charts. We went through who was staying, who was rotating out and leaving in the summer, and we talked about everybody's strengths and weaknesses.
[02:39:04.040 - 02:39:25.360]

And I always asked my staff to do upward feedback as well, to talk about what I wasn't doing right either. I would like to learn, too. And I said that I was concerned about the way things were trending in Ukraine policy. So Colonel Vindman is a highly distinguished, decorated military officer. He came over to us from the Chairman's office in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
[02:39:25.360 - 02:39:48.560]

And we were evaluating and looking at him in the context of what his future positions would be in the context of the U.S. Army. And I was concerned that if, for example, Colonel Vindman might decide to leave the military, that perhaps he wasn't as well suited for something that would be much more political.
[02:39:48.560 - 02:40:08.480]

I did not feel that he had the political antenna to deal with something that was straying into domestic politics. Not everyone is suited for that. That does not mean in any way that I was questioning his overall judgment, nor was I questioning in any way his substantive expertise. He is excellent on issues related to Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, on Russian defense issues.
[02:40:08.480 - 02:40:31.480]

He had been in charge of the Russia campaign, thinking through at the Chairman's office and in the Pentagon. This is a very specific issue. Because by June, we saw that things were diverging and needed a completely different sensitivity. Some people in my office have worked at the highest levels of advisory positions, and Mr. Morrison had come from Capitol Hill.
[02:40:31.480 - 02:40:54.240]

He knew politics inside out. And we said that Colonel Vindman did not, and we were concerned about how he would manage what was becoming a highly charged and potentially partisan issue which had not been before.
[02:40:54.240 - 02:41:07.560]
Steve Castor
And Colonel Vindman related to us during his deposition that he subsequently was sort of cut out of a lot of the decisionmaking and involvements with the embassy in Ukraine. Was that something you recommended?
[02:41:07.560 - 02:41:22.360]
Fiona Hill
Not with the embassy in Ukraine. I mean, we did pull him back from the meeting in May in the Oval Office. And subsequently we were very concerned about these political aspects to this, and we did not feel -- when July 10th, Colonel Vindman was justifiably alarmed when he realized that there was this highly political aspect of the meeting that we were looking for eventually with President Zelensky.
[02:41:22.360 - 02:41:50.000]
Steve Castor
And, Mr. Holmes, I want to -- at the end of August, we understand that Ambassador Taylor was engaged in obtaining some information for the President about European allies burden sharing in the region as the decision about aid was being debated.
[02:41:50.000 - 02:42:08.360]
David Holmes
So, sir, after the hold was placed on the security assistance, many people, I think, were scrambling to try to understand why. I believe it was Senator Johnson who had said that the President was concerned about burden sharing, perhaps others as well. And so trying to interpret why this might have happened, and we were looking into the facts of what the Europeans have provided and what we have provided, it was very illuminating what we learned.
[02:42:08.360 - 02:42:37.440]

The United States has provided combined civilian and military assistance to Ukraine since 2014 of about $3 billion, plus two $1 billion -- three $1 billion loan guarantees. That is not -- those get paid back largely. So just over $3 billion. The Europeans, at the level of the European Union, plus the member states combined, since 2014, my understanding, have provided a combined $12 billion to Ukraine.
[02:42:37.440 - 02:43:02.800]
Steve Castor
And you were able to communicate that information back at the end of August?
[02:43:02.800 - 02:43:07.320]
David Holmes
I believe so, yeah. This was done in collaboration with other missions, to the EU, to NATO, and others, yes.
[02:43:07.320 - 02:43:13.280]
Steve Castor
And do you think that was the information the White House was looking for?
[02:43:13.280 - 02:43:15.720]
David Holmes
We don't know. If the concern was that we weren't -- that others weren't spending as much as we were to support Ukraine, then that information showed a different story.
[02:43:15.720 - 02:43:27.760]
Steve Castor
Okay. And the aid was subsequently lifted -- the pause in the aid was lifted shortly thereafter?
[02:43:27.760 - 02:43:32.880]
David Holmes
It was -- yes, in early September -- in mid-September.
[02:43:32.880 - 02:43:37.240]
Steve Castor
Yield back.
[02:43:37.240 - 02:43:38.080]
Adam B. Schiff
That concludes the 45-minute rounds. We'll now go to member questioning. I'll recognize myself for 5 minutes. First, as a threshold matter, I want to say to the witnesses to be a bit cautious when Members represent, are you aware of this fact, are you aware of that fact, do you know that so and so testified to this or testified to that.
[02:43:38.080 - 02:43:59.840]

If you have personal knowledge of it, that's fine, but -- and I'm not saying this is deliberate -- sometimes Members get it wrong. So let me just clear the record on one of the things that was suggested to you, that the Vice President canceled his trip because of a conflict with a trip to Canada. That was not Ms. Williams' testimony.
[02:43:59.840 - 02:44:18.920]

Her testimony was: I asked my colleague why we should stop trip planning and why the Vice President would not be attending, and I was informed that the President had decided the Vice President would not attend the inauguration. So just offer that caution. Dr. Hill, I want to ask you, you may be aware of some of the attacks on Colonel Vindman suggesting that he has a dual loyalty, that he's not really loyal to America, he's loyal to Ukraine.
[02:44:18.920 - 02:44:49.120]

I want to ask you, as a fellow immigrant, what you think of those kind of accusations when they're leveled against Colonel Vindman or other Americans?
[02:44:49.120 - 02:44:56.560]
Fiona Hill
I think it's very unfortunate. I mean, this is a country of immigrants. You know, with the exception, you know, perhaps of very few people still here, everyone immigrated to the United States at some point in their family history. And this is what, for me, really does make America great. I mean, I'm sure that every single person here -- some people perhaps came reluctantly, others came by choice, as I did.
[02:44:56.560 - 02:45:21.400]

But this is, for me, this is the essence of America. It's why I wanted to be here and why I wanted to stay here. And I think it's unfair to castigate anyone. Everyone has some kind of epaulet to them. I'm Anglo American perhaps, or I'm a British American, I'm a naturalized citizen. I do not believe that my loyalty is to the United Kingdom.
[02:45:21.400 - 02:45:41.040]

My loyalty is here to the United States. This is my country and the country that I serve. And I know for a fact that every single one of my colleagues -- and there were many naturalized citizens in my office and across the National Security Council -- felt exactly the same way. I think it's deeply unfair.
[02:45:41.040 - 02:45:54.800]
Adam B. Schiff
I thank you. You mentioned something in your testimony -- I might not have this exactly right -- that I think Ambassador Sondland at one point told you his role was to make deals. Is that right?
[02:45:54.800 - 02:46:07.640]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[02:46:07.640 - 02:46:08.280]
Adam B. Schiff
I want to ask you --
[02:46:08.280 - 02:46:09.320]
Fiona Hill
And he told other people that as well, to be clear.
[02:46:09.320 - 02:46:11.000]
Adam B. Schiff
I want to ask you about one of those deals, the one that Ambassador Bolton described as a drug deal. I had the suggestion -- or the indication, rather -- when Mr. Goldman was asking you questions about the July 10th meeting and the fact there were two meetings -- one in Ambassador Bolton's presence and then another in the Ward Room -- that there was more you had to say about that.
[02:46:11.000 - 02:46:32.520]

Do you want to walk us through that in a little more detail?
[02:46:32.520 - 02:46:34.800]
Fiona Hill
Well, the reference that Ambassador Bolton made was after I returned from the Ward Room and related to him what I had heard, because as -- so there was the sequencing of meetings, which I know that there's been some concern about the sequencing here and discrepancies between various depositions. So what happened immediately after the meeting that Ambassador Bolton caught a little short was that he told me to hold back in the room.
[02:46:34.800 - 02:47:02.960]

And he was escorting out the Ukrainian visitors, along with Secretary Perry and Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, and I guess they wanted to take a quick photograph outside of his office. And I know that Secretary Perry and others have tweeted out that photograph, beautiful sunny day, and there's a picture of all of them standing just outside of Ambassador Bolton's office.
[02:47:02.960 - 02:47:25.320]

This was very quick. He came back in, and at that point I guess they were already moving down to the Ward Room, because on the way out of Ambassador Bolton's office, Ambassador Sondland had said, let's regroup in the Ward Room for, you know, a quick huddle on next steps. Which, to be honest, was quite unusual.
[02:47:25.320 - 02:47:45.120]

You don't usually huddle in a room in the White House to discuss next steps with foreign delegations. Because we took it to being next steps on setting up the meeting, which already, as I had said, Ambassador Bolton wasn't prepared to do. And when Ambassador Bolton came back into the office, that's when he gave me the very strong instruction to go downstairs, find out what was being discussed, and to come right back up and report it to him.
[02:47:45.120 - 02:48:08.880]

And as I came into the Ward Room, Alex Vindman, Colonel Vindman, and Ambassador Sondland were in an exchange, and that's when I noticed that Colonel Vindman looked quite alarmed. Now, I know that Ambassador Sondland was asked yesterday -- because, again, I watched all of his testimony and I watched it very carefully -- that there were some questions about yelling and shouting.
[02:48:08.880 - 02:48:32.640]

I certainly never said that, and there was no yelling and shouting. That's some embellishment that's crept in perhaps in media depictions or how people like to retell these stories and add things to them. When I came in, Ambassador Sondland was in an exchange with Colonel Vindman along the lines of, well, we have an agreement to have this meeting.
[02:48:32.640 - 02:48:53.840]

And I came in and I asked, what's going on here? And he said -- and this is, again, the Ukrainians are there, Ambassador Volker was there. But at this point I also want to stress, Secretary Perry had left. He was not in the Ward Room when I came. As I was coming in, Secretary Perry and his colleagues were leaving.
[02:48:53.840 - 02:49:11.840]

So Secretary Perry has no recollection of this meeting, because he was not in it. And so when I came in, Gordon Sondland was basically saying, well, look, we have a deal here that there will be a meeting -- I have a deal here with Chief of Staff Mulvaney, there will be a meeting if the Ukrainians open up or announce these investigations into 2016 and Burisma.
[02:49:11.840 - 02:49:34.880]

And I cut it off immediately there. Because by this point, having heard Mr. Giuliani over and over again on the television and all of the issues that he was asserting, by this point it was clear that Burisma was code for the Bidens, because Giuliani was laying it out there. I could see why Colonel Vindman was alarmed, and he said, this is inappropriate, we're the National Security Council, we can't be involved in this.
[02:49:34.880 - 02:49:58.480]

And I've learned, you know, since, from Mr. Holmes' rendition here today, that Colonel Vindman has already warned the Ukrainians or, in fact, President Zelensky, no less, to stay out of American politics, domestic politics. So I cut off this line and I said to Ambassador Sondland, look, we need procedures for here, Ambassador Bolton just made it clear we can't set up the meeting right now, we have to properly prepare this through the proper process, I know this sounds all very boring, but, you know, we have national security procedures to do this.
[02:49:58.480 - 02:50:32.000]

And I said, and we really shouldn't be litigating this or talking about this in front of our colleagues from Ukraine. It was completely inappropriate for us to be thrashing this out in front of them. And he agreed, and we asked our Ukrainian colleagues to move into the corridor outside the Ward Room. And I explained where this is in the deposition, which is also extraordinarily awkward, because they shouldn't have been standing around in a corridor in the -- you know, basically in the West Wing at this particular juncture.
[02:50:32.000 - 02:50:56.080]

And that's when I pushed back on Ambassador Sondland and said, look, I know there's differences about when we should have this meeting, we're trying to figure out whether we should have it after the Ukrainian democratic -- sorry -- parliamentary elections, the Rada elections, which by that point I think had been set for July 21st -- it must have been, because this is July 10th at this point -- and Ambassador Bolton would like to wait until after that to basically see whether President Zelensky gets the majority in the Parliament, which would enable him to form a cabinet and then we can move forward.
[02:50:56.080 - 02:51:30.880]

Ambassador Sondland then said, okay, fair enough. He realized he wasn't going to, you know, be able to push this further. Ambassador Volker didn't say anything at this particular juncture. And then he said he had another meeting, and they all left. And I went back up and relayed this to Ambassador Bolton, which is when he gave me the very specific instruction that we've already been through, to go to talk to Mr. Eisenberg, John Eisenberg, in the NSC counsel's office.
[02:51:30.880 - 02:51:58.080]
Adam B. Schiff
Thank you. Mr. Nunes.
[02:51:58.080 - 02:52:00.160]
Devin Nunes
I assume we're getting 8 minutes there.
[02:52:00.160 - 02:52:04.360]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Nunes, I don't cut off a witness in the middle of their answer. You may proceed.
[02:52:04.360 - 02:52:09.520]
Fiona Hill
Sorry, that was a long answer.
[02:52:09.520 - 02:52:10.920]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Jordan.
[02:52:10.920 - 02:52:12.920]
Jim Jordan
Mr. Holmes, why didn't your boss talk about it?
[02:52:12.920 - 02:52:17.440]
David Holmes
What's that, sir?
[02:52:17.440 - 02:52:18.040]
Jim Jordan
Why didn't your boss bring up the call that you overheard, the reason you're here today? I mean, you're their closing witness. Yet their star witness, their first witness, Ambassador Taylor, didn't even bring it up. And when we deposed you, you said this was extremely distinctive experience, one of the most remarkable events of my life.
[02:52:18.040 - 02:52:35.800]

You described it like this. You said, after the call happens, I immediately told deputy chief of mission and others at the embassy about the call. Then you said you went on vacation. You told several friends and family about the call. Then you come back on August 6th, and you tell Ambassador Taylor about the call.
[02:52:35.800 - 02:52:51.080]

And then in your deposition statement, you said in your statement today as well, I repeatedly referred to the call in meetings and conversations where the issue of the President's interest in Ukraine was relevant. I repeatedly referred to the call in meetings and conversations where the issue of the President's interest in Ukraine was relevant.
[02:52:51.080 - 02:53:07.880]

That sounds like government speak for you told everybody. Yet their star witness, their first witness, Ambassador Taylor, when he came here, he related 13 different conversations he had between July 18th, when the aid is frozen, September 11th, when it's released, 13 different conversations, never once mentioning this call.
[02:53:07.880 - 02:53:25.920]

July 19th, Dr. Hill and Colonel Vindman told Taylor what Sondland told them. July 19th, Sondland told Taylor about the upcoming Trump-Zelensky call. July 20th, Sondland told Taylor what Sondland told Zelensky to tell Trump. July 20th, Danylyuk tells Taylor what Zelensky told Danylyuk. July 28th, Morrison tells Taylor what happened on the Trump-Zelensky call.
[02:53:25.920 - 02:53:43.520]

August 16th, Volker tells Taylor what Yermak told Volker. August 21st, Brechbuhl talks to Taylor. August 22nd, Morrison talks to Taylor. August 29th, Yermak talks to Taylor. September 1st, Morrison tells Taylor what Sondland told Morrison about what Yermak told Sondland. September 2nd, Morrison tells Taylor what Danylyuk told Morrison.
[02:53:43.520 - 02:54:01.000]

September 7th, Morrison tells Taylor what Sondland told Trump. And September 8th, Sondland tells Taylor what Trump told Sondland. Nowhere, nowhere, is there a Holmes tells Taylor what the President of the United States told Sondland. Thirteen conversations --
[02:54:01.000 - 02:54:18.680]
David Holmes
May I answer that question?
[02:54:18.680 - 02:54:19.640]
Jim Jordan
Yeah, I'll get to you. I'll give you a chance here in a second.
[02:54:19.640 - 02:54:21.520]
David Holmes
Thank you.
[02:54:21.520 - 02:54:21.680]
Jim Jordan
But 13 conversations, 13 conversations from their star witness, you're their closing witness, and he can't remember a call from a guy he works with every single day. Why?
[02:54:21.680 - 02:54:34.480]
David Holmes
Yes, sir. So immediately when I went back to the embassy after this lunch on the 26th, I told my direct supervisor, the deputy chief of mission. I would have told Ambassador Taylor immediately except he was on the front lines that afternoon. I then went on, as I've testified, my vacation on Saturday. Came back the following Monday.
[02:54:34.480 - 02:54:55.760]

And on Tuesday I was back in the ambassador's office, where I referred to the call. In that week-plus that I was away it was my assumption that the deputy chief of mission would have informed other people about the call as well. So my recollection is when I did refer to the call in that meeting, that Ambassador Taylor nodded, knowingly, as though he had been briefed on it. So I referred to the call and I mentioned some of my takeaways from the call.
[02:54:55.760 - 02:55:23.960]

And at the time, the main takeaway from the call was, the President doesn't care about Ukraine. So we're going to have a tough road ahead to convince him that it's important enough for him to schedule an Oval Office meeting for President Zelensky and ultimately to release this hold on security assistance.
[02:55:23.960 - 02:55:38.720]

That was the takeaway. And that's what I referred to repeatedly in the coming weeks whenever it became relevant. And I'll remind you, sir, that --
[02:55:38.720 - 02:55:46.880]
Jim Jordan
Maybe --
[02:55:46.880 - 02:55:47.920]
David Holmes
-- one more important point. Throughout this time, as I've testified, we were trying to find a formula, things we could do with the Ukrainians that would convince the President that they were worth talking to.
[02:55:47.920 - 02:56:00.800]
Jim Jordan
Maybe, maybe, Mr. Holmes, the takeaway was, he thought it was no big deal because he already knew. He didn't remember it because we already had the transcript.
[02:56:00.800 - 02:56:11.120]
David Holmes
No --
[02:56:11.120 - 02:56:12.240]
Jim Jordan
He didn't remember the -- he didn't remember the -- we had the Trump-Zelensky transcript had been out for 2 months.
[02:56:12.240 - 02:56:18.040]
David Holmes
Sir, I believe that when I --
[02:56:18.040 - 02:56:18.920]
Jim Jordan
Even though you're repeatedly bringing this conversation up, as you said, to everybody, when it's -- anytime there's a talk about Ukraine, you recall this conversation. Maybe it was -- the transcript -- the call happened on the July 25th, that's 4 months ago. The transcript's been out for 2 months. Maybe the Ambassador thought this is nothing new here.
[02:56:18.920 - 02:56:38.200]

But, shazam, last week, you come forward with supposedly this new information. There is nothing different in there than what we had on the transcript. Maybe that's the reason their star witness, their first witness, didn't bring it up. But they had to have something, so you're their closing witness because you overheard -- you overheard the President talking to Ambassador Sondland.
[02:56:38.200 - 02:56:59.320]
David Holmes
Sir, if I could answer -- I see 4 seconds left on the clock. I believe --
[02:56:59.320 - 02:57:02.920]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Holmes, you may talk as long as you need.
[02:57:02.920 - 02:57:04.920]
David Holmes
Thank you, sir. I believe that Ambassador Taylor did already know when I briefed him, when I returned from vacation on the 6th. He -- it was not news to him that the President was pressing for a Biden investigation.
[02:57:04.920 - 02:57:15.200]
Jim Jordan
That's not what I asked. I asked why he didn't share it with us.
[02:57:15.200 - 02:57:17.520]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Jordan, Mr. Jordan, please do not interrupt the witness any further. Mr. Holmes --
[02:57:17.520 - 02:57:21.360]
David Holmes
This is exactly --
[02:57:21.360 - 02:57:22.560]
Adam B. Schiff
-- Mr. Jordan's time has expired, but yours has not.
[02:57:22.560 - 02:57:26.480]
David Holmes
Okay, thank you, sir.
[02:57:26.480 - 02:57:27.880]
Adam B. Schiff
You may answer the question.
[02:57:27.880 - 02:57:28.760]
David Holmes
It's exactly my point. I briefed the call in detail to the deputy chief of mission. Went away for a week. Come back. I referred to the call, and everyone is nodding. Of course that's what's going on. Of course the President is pressing for a Biden investigation before he'll do these things the Ukrainians want.
[02:57:28.760 - 02:57:43.160]

There was nodding agreement. So did I go through every single word in the call? No, because everyone by that point agreed, it was obvious what the President was pressing for. And Ambassador Taylor, as you've just outlined, had all those other interactions with all these other --
[02:57:43.160 - 02:57:57.360]
Jim Jordan
But he didn't share it with us.
[02:57:57.360 - 02:57:59.040]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Jordan, please do not interrupt.
[02:57:59.040 - 02:58:00.760]
David Holmes
But, sir, sir -- but, sir, my vivid recollection of an event I was involved with was a touchstone experience that to me validated --
[02:58:00.760 - 02:58:08.400]
Jim Jordan
And --
[02:58:08.400 - 02:58:09.560]
David Holmes
-- what -- sir, if I could --
[02:58:09.560 - 02:58:10.680]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Jordan, please do not interrupt.
[02:58:10.680 - 02:58:13.280]
David Holmes
-- what we believed. And Ambassador Taylor was not in that call.
[02:58:13.280 - 02:58:16.120]
Jim Jordan
And so all of a sudden, last week, you got to come tell us, right?
[02:58:16.120 - 02:58:18.880]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Jordan, we will allow the witness to answer the question.
[02:58:18.880 - 02:58:22.080]
David Holmes
I'll finish with this.
[02:58:22.080 - 02:58:23.280]
Adam B. Schiff
Thank you.
[02:58:23.280 - 02:58:23.720]
David Holmes
He was involved in a number of other interactions, as you've outlined, that brought him to the same conclusion. It is quite possible that that --
[02:58:23.720 - 02:58:31.920]
Jim Jordan
So he doesn't share the one that --
[02:58:31.920 - 02:58:33.480]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Jordan --
[02:58:33.480 - 02:58:34.520]
Jim Jordan
-- the guy he worked with --
[02:58:34.520 - 02:58:35.400]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Jordan --
[02:58:35.400 - 02:58:36.320]
Jim Jordan
-- he didn't share that one.
[02:58:36.320 - 02:58:37.400]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Jordan, you may not like the witness's answer, but --
[02:58:37.400 - 02:58:41.560]
Jim Jordan
No, I --
[02:58:41.560 - 02:58:42.760]
Adam B. Schiff
-- we will hear it.
[02:58:42.760 - 02:58:43.520]
Jim Jordan
That wasn't an answer; that was a filibuster.
[02:58:43.520 - 02:58:46.440]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Jordan, we will hear the witness's answer. Have you concluded, Mr. Holmes?
[02:58:46.440 - 02:58:50.320]
David Holmes
I have, sir. Thank you.
[02:58:50.320 - 02:58:52.320]
Adam B. Schiff
Thank you. Mr. Himes.
[02:58:52.320 - 02:58:54.080]
Jim Himes
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Hill and Mr. Holmes, thank you for your testimony. Dr. Hill, you made a fairly dramatic comment in your opening statement to which the ranking member took some exception. I'm more interested in the Ukraine piece of this, but you said, "Some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that, perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did." I'm really much more interested in the Ukraine piece of this, but I do want to defend you briefly.
[02:58:54.080 - 02:59:29.120]

I don't know what my colleagues believe, but I do have a pretty good sense of what the effects are of creating ambiguity, of lacking clarity and conviction around the Russian attack on the election of 2016. In response to your comment, the ranking member offered up a report, which varies in material respects from the report that was created by the 17 agencies of the Intelligence Community.
[02:59:29.120 - 02:59:56.200]

A day does not go by in which Ranking Member Nunes does not speak of the "Russia hoax." And this is an area in which context is pretty important. Dr. Hill, let me read you a comment by another senior official. "Why did Democratic National Committee turn down the DHS offer to protect against hacks? It's all a big Dem HOAX," all caps.
[02:59:56.200 - 03:00:17.080]

Why did the DNC refuse to turn over its server to the FBI? It's all a big Dem scam. Dr. Hill, do you know who said those things?
[03:00:17.080 - 03:00:25.200]
Fiona Hill
I don't.
[03:00:25.200 - 03:00:26.680]
Jim Himes
That's the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. So you might be forgiven for your --
[03:00:26.680 - 03:00:32.640]
Fiona Hill
I must have missed that. Yeah.
[03:00:32.640 - 03:00:34.560]
Jim Himes
Yeah. You didn't miss much. But my point is -- and tell me if you agree or disagree. Ambiguity, a failure to name and shame the Russians for the attack in 2016, that is not in the service of our national security, is it?
[03:00:34.560 - 03:00:54.400]
Fiona Hill
It's not, no.
[03:00:54.400 - 03:00:55.320]
Jim Himes
It's not. So let's turn to Ukraine. Dr. Hill, have you seen a -- you've characterized the idea that Ukraine interfered in the election as a "fictional narrative." Have you seen any evidence at all that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election?
[03:00:55.320 - 03:01:09.080]
Fiona Hill
Well, I brought with me two exhibits that I was pointed to, in fact, by our colleagues during the deposition that I gave on October 14th. And, actually, I'm quite grateful that they pointed me in this direction. I was presented during my deposition with two articles, or, at least, two pieces of information.
[03:01:09.080 - 03:01:29.440]

One was an op-ed that the Ukrainian Ambassador Chaly wrote in 2016 in The Hill. So this is during the Presidential campaign, when President Trump was then the nominee for the Republican Party. And this is Ambassador Chaly, who was then, you know, still the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, being critical of President Trump, who was then the nominee for the Republican Party, for making comments about Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia.
[03:01:29.440 - 03:02:00.400]
Jim Himes
May I interrupt you there? Let me be very specific about what those comments were. The President, when he was a candidate, said, quote, "The people of Crimea, from what I've heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were." So Ambassador Chaly is responding to that in that article, correct?
[03:02:00.400 - 03:02:17.560]
Fiona Hill
That's correct. And he just uses this as a peg, because, to be honest, the whole article is actually about Ukraine. And this is classic, standard for anyone who wants to write an op-ed. I've written plenty of them myself. You pick a peg by --
[03:02:17.560 - 03:02:32.640]
Jim Himes
[03:02:32.640 - 03:02:33.040]
Fiona Hill
-- something that you or somebody else might have said, and then you proceed to say what you want to say.
[03:02:33.040 - 03:02:38.880]
Jim Himes
Right. So here it is --
[03:02:38.880 - 03:02:40.200]
Fiona Hill
So this is what Ambassador Chaly does, is he talks about Ukraine's position vis--vis Russia and Russian aggression against Ukraine.
[03:02:40.200 - 03:02:50.440]
Jim Himes
Yeah. And let me just read, because it's worth people hearing this severe attack on candidate Trump, who has suggested that the Crimeans would rather be with Russia. Ambassador Chaly writes, "Even if Trump's comments are only speculative and do not really reflect a future foreign policy, they call for appeasement of an aggressor and support the violation of a sovereign country's territorial integrity and another's breech of international law." Dun, dun, dun.
[03:02:50.440 - 03:03:17.280]

That's the attack on candidate Trump.
[03:03:17.280 - 03:03:19.440]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[03:03:19.440 - 03:03:20.440]
Jim Himes
Does that sound like election interference to you?
[03:03:20.440 - 03:03:24.800]
Fiona Hill
Well, I would say that it's probably not the most advisable thing to do for an ambassador, because you never know who's going to win. And I think that the second piece that was presented to me at great length -- and I want to thank Mr. Castor for making me go back and read it again. Because when you asked me the questions about it, I did remember the piece -- Kenneth Vogel is a very well-known and, you know, as you've pointed out, extremely good journalist.
[03:03:24.800 - 03:03:59.440]

And I'd remembered reading this back in the day, in January of 2017, but it'd been a long time between then and October. And you gave me a copy, and I went back and read it again, because I think it actually is extraordinarily important. It gets to this issue here. Mr. Vogel points out that the Ukrainian Government -- again, you know, they wouldn't have done very well at the bookies, picking up the issue I pointed out in the beginning of today.
[03:03:59.440 - 03:04:31.280]

They bet on the wrong horse. They bet on Hillary Clinton winning the election. And so, you know, they were trying to curry favor with the Clinton campaign, it's quite evident in here. And he relates, you know, to some extent, individuals and some Ukrainian officials, like Mr. Avakov, the Interior Minister, and a number of other people that he names here and that have been named at various points, and talks about how they were trying to collect information, as Ranking Member Nunes said, on Mr. Manafort and on other people as well.
[03:04:31.280 - 03:05:09.480]

However, I do want to point out that the crux of the article here by Mr. Vogel is he said, there was little evidence of a top-down effort by Ukraine. And he makes a distinction between the Russian effort that was personally directed by Russian President Putin and involved the country's military and foreign intelligence services.
[03:05:09.480 - 03:05:34.760]

Now, I don't think that those two things are exactly the same. I also mentioned in my deposition of October 14th, that, in fact, many officials from many countries, including Ukraine, bet on the wrong horse. They believed that Secretary Clinton, former Senator Clinton, former First Lady Clinton, was going to win.
[03:05:34.760 - 03:05:56.320]

And many said some pretty disparaging and hurtful things about President Trump, and I can't blame him for feeling aggrieved about them. And when we were setting up head-of-state visits -- and, remember, I have a portfolio of 50-plus countries, plus NATO and the European Union -- we thought it prudent to collect as much as possible about comments that people might have said about the President during the campaign, when he was either one of the candidates to be the nominee for the Republican Party or when he was actually the candidate running against Hillary Clinton.
[03:05:56.320 - 03:06:35.280]

And I'm sorry to say that an awful lot -- and perhaps I shouldn't name them here, because it will have consequences -- an awful lot of senior officials in many governments, including our allied governments, said some pretty hurtful things about the President. And I would also personally take offense at some of the things that were said, if I were the President.
[03:06:35.280 - 03:06:57.680]

Now, the difference here, however, is that that hasn't had any major impact on his feelings towards those countries, not that I have seen. But I've also heard the President say -- and he said it in public, so I'm not revealing any kind of executive privilege here -- that "Ukraine tried to take me down." What I have seen is that some ill-advised Ukrainian officials -- Ambassador Chaly has been removed as being the Ambassador from here -- made some pretty, you know, unpleasant statements or some ill-advised op-eds.
[03:06:57.680 - 03:07:32.000]

But I could list a whole host of ambassadors from allied countries who tweeted out, who had public comments about the President as well, and it did not affect security assistance, having meetings with them. If it would, there'd have been a lot of people he wouldn't have met with.
[03:07:32.000 - 03:07:49.440]
Jim Himes
Thank you, Dr. Hill. Mr. Chairman, I seek unanimous consent to add to the record a Politico article of December 1st, 2016, entitled "Russia Accuses Ukraine of Sabotaging Trump." It outlines Russian senior officials making allegations that there was Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.
[03:07:49.440 - 03:08:09.560]
Adam B. Schiff
Without objection.
[03:08:09.560 - 03:08:10.280]

Mr. Conaway?
[03:08:10.280 - 03:08:12.080]
K. Michael Conaway
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield to Mr. Ratcliffe 5 minutes.
[03:08:12.080 - 03:08:16.200]
John Ratcliffe
I thank the gentleman for yielding. I want to pick up where my colleague across the aisle, Congressman Himes, left off earlier. Respectfully, Dr. Hill, he was not defending you; he was defending himself and Democrats. I want to make sure the record's very clear. Ranking Member Nunes was correct. He correctly noted in his opening that Republicans, not Democrats, on this committee were the first ones, the first ones, to raise the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
[03:08:16.200 - 03:09:03.640]

The disagreement wasn't about Russian meddling. The disagreement was about whether or not President Trump conspired with Russia -- a false allegation peddled by the Democrats generally and specifically by some Democrats on this committee. With that, Mr. Holmes, I want to turn to you and the part of the conversation, your testimony, where you said you heard President Trump say, "Is he going to do the investigation?", and Ambassador Sondland said, "He's going to do it. He'll do anything you ask him to." Is that right?
[03:09:03.640 - 03:09:39.760]
David Holmes
Yes, sir.
[03:09:39.760 - 03:09:40.760]
John Ratcliffe
What did President Trump say next?
[03:09:40.760 - 03:09:44.960]
David Holmes
He said -- he said, "Good. What about Sweden?"
[03:09:44.960 - 03:09:49.200]
John Ratcliffe
He said what?
[03:09:49.200 - 03:09:49.960]
David Holmes
Sir, he -- I'm sorry. I need to look back at where we are in the middle of the conversation here. Where are we in the testimony? Exactly. It says, "Then they turned to the Sweden conversation."
[03:09:49.960 - 03:10:07.800]
John Ratcliffe
What did President Trump say next?
[03:10:07.800 - 03:10:10.200]
David Holmes
He said, "Good. What about Sweden?"
[03:10:10.200 - 03:10:13.200]
John Ratcliffe
Good. What about Sweden? "Good. What about Sweden?" Why isn't that in your statement?
[03:10:13.200 - 03:10:18.120]
David Holmes
Sir, it's not a word-for-word, every single word in the conversation.
[03:10:18.120 - 03:10:21.920]
John Ratcliffe
But it's the most important part of the conversation.
[03:10:21.920 - 03:10:25.200]
David Holmes
Well, then they turned to Sweden. They turned to the other topic.
[03:10:25.200 - 03:10:28.880]
John Ratcliffe
Respectfully, Mr. Holmes, this impeachment inquiry is based on the call the day before, where President Trump, as part of a bribery scheme, as part of an extortion scheme, as part of a quid pro quo, according to the Democrats, demanded investigations in exchange for either military aid or a White House meeting.
[03:10:28.880 - 03:10:49.240]

And the next day, you were witness to President Trump receiving word that the bribery scheme was successful, the extortion scheme was successful. And his response was, "Good. What about Sweden?"
[03:10:49.240 - 03:11:02.240]
David Holmes
Yes, sir. The Ukraine portion of that conversation was extremely brief.
[03:11:02.240 - 03:11:09.000]
John Ratcliffe
What was the first thing the President said on the call?
[03:11:09.000 - 03:11:13.680]
David Holmes
The -- this was --
[03:11:13.680 - 03:11:15.040]
John Ratcliffe
You had a clear recollection of this conversation.
[03:11:15.040 - 03:11:17.560]
David Holmes
Yes, sir.
[03:11:17.560 - 03:11:18.400]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Ratcliffe, please allow Mr. Holmes to answer.
[03:11:18.400 - 03:11:31.760]
David Holmes
Yes, sir. Sondland greeted the President --
[03:11:31.760 - 03:11:34.720]
John Ratcliffe
[03:11:34.720 - 03:11:35.080]
David Holmes
He said, I'm in -- he said, "Hello, Mr. President. I'm in Kyiv." And the President correct -- said, "Are you in Ukraine?"
[03:11:35.080 - 03:11:42.760]
John Ratcliffe
You think he said, "I think you're in Ukraine"? He said what?
[03:11:42.760 - 03:11:47.520]
David Holmes
He said, "Are you in" -- "Is Kyiv Ukraine?"
[03:11:47.520 - 03:11:51.200]
John Ratcliffe
What did you hear President Trump say about A$AP Rocky?
[03:11:51.200 - 03:11:55.600]
David Holmes
I did not hear President Trump's side of the conversation about A$AP Rocky.
[03:11:55.600 - 03:12:00.600]
John Ratcliffe
You said -- how did we go from, the conversation was very loud and his voice was recognizable, to, as you say here, when the conversation shifted, I could only hear Ambassador Sondland's side of the conversation?
[03:12:00.600 - 03:12:16.360]
David Holmes
Yes, sir. As I have testified, the initial part of the call, Ambassador Sondland, sort of -- when the President came on the call, he sort of winced and held the phone away from his ear for the initial portion of the call. And then, at some point in the call, he stopped doing that. And I don't know why. I don't know if he turned the volume down; I don't know if the President spoke more quietly; I don't know if he got used to the volume; I don't know what changed --
[03:12:16.360 - 03:12:46.000]
John Ratcliffe
What did change? It's important. This was memorable.
[03:12:46.000 - 03:12:50.120]
David Holmes
I don't know, sir. It was -- Ambassador Sondland stopped moving the phone away from his ear. That's what --
[03:12:50.120 - 03:12:56.760]
John Ratcliffe
That's what it was?
[03:12:56.760 - 03:12:58.440]
David Holmes
[03:12:58.440 - 03:12:59.560]
John Ratcliffe
Okay. How did the conversation end?
[03:12:59.560 - 03:13:02.120]
David Holmes
I only heard Ambassador Sondland's side of the conversation, sir. And at the end of the conversation, he said -- he said -- he was giving the President advice on how to deal with this A$AP Rocky situation. And he said, you know, "They should've released him on your word," and "You can tell the Kardashians you tried."
[03:13:02.120 - 03:13:19.720]
John Ratcliffe
Okay. So, to be clear, when President Trump received word that President Zelensky had agreed to the investigations, he said, "Good. What about Sweden?"
[03:13:19.720 - 03:13:33.440]
David Holmes
[03:13:33.440 - 03:13:33.640]
John Ratcliffe
Okay. When exactly did Gordon Sondland ask President Zelensky about the investigations?
[03:13:33.640 - 03:13:37.000]
David Holmes
I'm sorry, sir?
[03:13:37.000 - 03:13:38.040]
John Ratcliffe
When did he ask about the investigations?
[03:13:38.040 - 03:13:41.640]
David Holmes
When did Gordon Sondland ask Zelensky about the investigations?
[03:13:41.640 - 03:13:44.560]
John Ratcliffe
[03:13:44.560 - 03:13:44.800]
David Holmes
Are you asking in which meeting did he raise the investigations?
[03:13:44.800 - 03:13:47.640]
John Ratcliffe
Well, it was raised the day before on a call --
[03:13:47.640 - 03:13:50.200]
David Holmes
[03:13:50.200 - 03:13:50.560]
John Ratcliffe
-- and, the next day, Gordon Sondland said the answer to that was --
[03:13:50.560 - 03:13:55.480]
David Holmes
Yes, sir.
[03:13:55.480 - 03:13:56.120]
John Ratcliffe
-- he's going to do the investigations. So when did he ask about the investigations?
[03:13:56.120 - 03:14:01.720]
David Holmes
My assumption is he did it in a closed-door meeting with Yermak.
[03:14:01.720 - 03:14:06.160]
John Ratcliffe
Well, I want to --
[03:14:06.160 - 03:14:06.960]
Adam B. Schiff
The time of the gentleman has expired.
[03:14:06.960 - 03:14:08.880]
John Ratcliffe
I appreciate that, but I want to make sure the record's clear that, yesterday, Ambassador Sondland testified --
[03:14:08.880 - 03:14:17.280]
Adam B. Schiff
The time of the gentleman --
[03:14:17.280 - 03:14:18.600]
John Ratcliffe
-- that the topic of conversations did not come up on that day. I yield back.
[03:14:18.600 - 03:14:22.160]
Adam B. Schiff
The time of the gentleman has expired. Ms. Sewell, you're recognized.
[03:14:22.160 - 03:14:25.160]
Terri A. Sewell
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to thank both of our witnesses for being here today. I'd like to turn our discussion to the campaign to remove career diplomat Ambassador Yovanovitch. Both of you, in your various capacities, had to work with her, and both of you witnessed what I would call a smear campaign.
[03:14:25.160 - 03:14:47.920]

I wanted to know your thoughts, Dr. Hill. What was your view of Ambassador Yovanovitch's experience and quality of her work in the Ukraine? And do you consider it to be a smear campaign?
[03:14:47.920 - 03:14:58.600]
Fiona Hill
I have the highest regard for Ambassador Yovanovitch, both in terms of her integrity and the high standards of work that she was carrying out as Ambassador in Ukraine and across her whole career. I do believe that there was a smear campaign. And I just want to say, again, for the record, that I think it was unnecessary.
[03:14:58.600 - 03:15:14.400]

If there was a decision to have a political ambassador put in place in Ukraine, that would be perfectly acceptable. It's exactly the right of the President to be able to do that. I just did not see why it was necessary to malign Ambassador Yovanovitch to such an extent.
[03:15:14.400 - 03:15:31.080]
Terri A. Sewell
Mr. Holmes, would you agree with that? And can you talk about the character, integrity, and performance of Professor -- I mean, Ambassador Yovanovitch both in Ukraine?
[03:15:31.080 - 03:15:42.480]
David Holmes
Yes, ma'am. She was extremely professional, respected in Ukraine by Ukrainians, I think also by visiting American senior officials, including members of this committee and of Congress, who came to visit. She is extremely dedicated, hard-working.
[03:15:42.480 - 03:15:58.680]
Terri A. Sewell
Did you see it as a smear campaign as well?
[03:15:58.680 - 03:16:01.640]
David Holmes
I did, yes.
[03:16:01.640 - 03:16:02.920]
Terri A. Sewell
And what was the effect that it had on the morale of other professionals that you worked with in the Ukraine?
[03:16:02.920 - 03:16:08.920]
David Holmes
It was a very confusing time. As I have said before, the President has the right to remove an ambassador for any or no reason at all. It was not clear to us why this was happening or why people weren't standing up for her.
[03:16:08.920 - 03:16:22.600]
Terri A. Sewell
I'd like to now turn, Dr. Hill, to your boss. Your boss was Ambassador Bolton, right?
[03:16:22.600 - 03:16:29.160]
Fiona Hill
That's correct, yes.
[03:16:29.160 - 03:16:30.200]
Terri A. Sewell
Did your boss, Ambassador Bolton, tell you that Giuliani was, quote, "a hand grenade"?
[03:16:30.200 - 03:16:35.640]
Fiona Hill
He did, yes.
[03:16:35.640 - 03:16:36.080]
Terri A. Sewell
What do you think he met by his characterization of Giuliani as a hand grenade?
[03:16:36.080 - 03:16:39.600]
Fiona Hill
What he meant by this was pretty clear to me in the context of all of the statements that Mr. Giuliani was making publicly, that the investigations that he was promoting, that the story line he was promoting, the narrative he was promoting was going to backfire. I think it has backfired.
[03:16:39.600 - 03:16:56.320]
Terri A. Sewell
Was that narrative also inclusive of falsehoods about Ambassador Yovanovitch?
[03:16:56.320 - 03:17:01.440]
Fiona Hill
At the particular juncture that Ambassador Bolton made that comment, absolutely, because that was in the context of my discussions with him about what was happening to Ambassador Yovanovitch.
[03:17:01.440 - 03:17:13.200]
Terri A. Sewell
I was particularly struck by your testimony, Dr. Hill, about receiving hateful calls and being accused of being a source, mole, in the White House. Are you a Never Trumper, or have you been true to your profession and remain nonpartisan?
[03:17:13.200 - 03:17:27.400]
Fiona Hill
I honestly don't know what the definition of a Never Trumper is, as I think many of my colleagues are feeling the same way, that it's a puzzling term to be applied to career or nonpartisan officials. And I chose to come into the administration. I could easily have said no when I was approached by the people --
[03:17:27.400 - 03:17:45.440]
Terri A. Sewell
Yes, but you didn't sign up to have hateful calls and the like?
[03:17:45.440 - 03:17:50.280]
Fiona Hill
I guess, unfortunately, where we are today in America, that's coming with the territory. They're continuing, honestly. I mean, we're constantly having to block Twitter posts of my name and address on the internet. We've been doing this over the last couple of days.
[03:17:50.280 - 03:18:05.640]
Terri A. Sewell
I think that you would agree --
[03:18:05.640 - 03:18:07.560]
Fiona Hill
And as I said in my deposition, this could happen to any single person in this room, be it members of the press, be it Members of Congress, and be it the staff. And I think we have to find ways of combating this. And, again, this gets back, sadly, to things that our adversaries can also exploit.
[03:18:07.560 - 03:18:28.480]
Terri A. Sewell
Exactly. I think you would agree with me that this shouldn't become the new normal. Would you agree?
[03:18:28.480 - 03:18:33.480]
Fiona Hill
It should not.
[03:18:33.480 - 03:18:34.560]
Terri A. Sewell
I also think that this kind of behavior, instead of keeping you down, would make you undeterred. Are you more determined to continue to do your work and to do it professionally?
[03:18:34.560 - 03:18:45.760]
Fiona Hill
I am, and I think that all my colleagues are as well. Because, just as you said, we can't let this stand. And I don't think anyone here wants to let this stand. I actually don't believe that this is a partisan issue. I don't think anybody wants to come under personal attack.
[03:18:45.760 - 03:19:01.760]
Terri A. Sewell
Yeah. I, unfortunately, think that this has become the new norm and that we're being led by the very top of the food chain, which is our President, which is unfortunate. I'm especially disheartened by his treatment of women, and I think that the fact of the matter is that there's a long line of strong, talented women who have been smeared and victimized by this President.
[03:19:01.760 - 03:19:26.560]

And we can either choose to ignore it or do something about it. And, frankly, I think that whether you voted for him or whether you supported him or not, that doing so is wrong. You could simply just remove someone. You don't have to smear them. Thank you. I yield back my time.
[03:19:26.560 - 03:19:38.760]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Turner.
[03:19:38.760 - 03:19:39.760]
Michael R. Turner
Right. I just want to echo that sentiment and certainly lament the attacks that have been levied against our colleague, Elise Stefanik, on this panel, which have been vile and hateful. For those of you keeping score at home, the efforts to accuse our President of coercion, extortion, or bribery with these witnesses, as we now come to the closing session of this, basically break down as follows: We have Kent and Ambassador Taylor who spoke of hearsay.
[03:19:39.760 - 03:20:03.720]

Their hearsay of these matters that they said that they had heard were all statements that they'd heard from others who have also testified in front of us. So there's no one that's missing, there's no one out there. Kent and Taylor basically said that they'd heard it from Morrison and Sondland. Morrison indicated he'd heard it from Sondland.
[03:20:03.720 - 03:20:26.640]

Sondland testified yesterday he'd heard it from no one on the planet. Vindman and Morrison both have direct testimony of the phone call with the President of the United States. Beyond that, they only had contact with Sondland. And, again, Sondland indicated he had contact with no one on the planet. Volker testified that he did have direct contact both with the Ukrainians and with the President of the United States and indicated that the President of the United States did not condition either a phone call, a meeting, or aid upon Ukraine undertaking investigations and also testified that the Ukrainians did not believe that either.
[03:20:26.640 - 03:21:09.440]

We also have the direct statements from the President of Ukraine and the Foreign Minister that they did not feel any pressure to undertake investigations. And we also have the evidence that we're all very much aware of, which is, they did not undertake any investigations. We also have Yovanovitch and Dr. Hill.
[03:21:09.440 - 03:21:28.680]

Yovanovitch, obviously, left before the time period. Dr. Hill, we appreciate your being with us today, and Mr. Holmes. Dr. Hill, you have provided me probably the greatest piece of evidence that's before us to illustrate the problem with hearsay. So you said, based on questions and statements, "I have heard some of you on this committee" -- that'd be us -- "appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country, and, perhaps, somehow, for some reason, it was Ukraine." So this was held up by Devin Nunes.
[03:21:28.680 - 03:22:09.520]

This is the "Report on Russian Active Measures" that was voted on by all of us. It begins with this sentence: "In 2015, Russia began engaging in a covert influence campaign aimed at the U.S. Presidential election." Every one of us. A little, small, like, you know, effort on your part, Dr. Hill, and you would have known that what you just said was not true, what you had heard.
[03:22:09.520 - 03:22:39.960]

But you felt the need to put it in your eight-page statement before you went on to tell us a bunch of other things that you heard about other people, no matter how convinced you were of, also which were not necessarily true, one of which was that you said that Ambassador Sondland met with Giuliani. Actually, Ambassador Sondland testified here that he had not, as Ambassador, met with Giuliani.
[03:22:39.960 - 03:22:58.120]

He'd briefly met him in his lifetime by shaking his hand. And Giuliani issued a statement that they had never met either. This is the problem with, no matter how convinced we are, Dr. Hill, no matter how much we believe we know that what we've heard is true, it is still just what we've heard. But so far in this hearing, in this series of hearings, the only thing that we have is Volker saying, I spoke to the President and I've spoke to Ukrainians, neither of which believed that aid was conditioned, neither of which believed that the President was requiring it, and Ambassador Sondland, which said no one on the planet told him that that was the case.
[03:22:58.120 - 03:23:33.480]

That's the sole evidence. Now, I've got to tell you, the one thing that's interesting is Ambassador Sondland did say it's his belief that a meeting with the President was conditioned upon investigations. Ambassador Volker, who I think is a man of very significant integrity, said that that was not the case.
[03:23:33.480 - 03:23:53.960]

Now, even if Ambassador Sondland is correct that somebody -- and, Dr. Hill, you testified -- and, again, it's hearsay; you don't know -- that supposedly Mulvaney told him that, because he didn't testify to that. But let's say somebody beside the President told him that, you guys want to be the laughing stock of history, to impeach a President of the United States because he didn't take a meeting?
[03:23:53.960 - 03:24:21.440]

Oh, please, dear God. Please undertake that. Now, Mr. Holmes, I've got to tell you --
[03:24:21.440 - 03:24:29.080]
Adam B. Schiff
Is there a question for Dr. Hill?
[03:24:29.080 - 03:24:30.320]
Michael R. Turner
Mr. Holmes, in your testimony, you said that Sondland said "he loves your ass" and also said, "He'll do anything that you want."
[03:24:30.320 - 03:24:38.840]
David Holmes
[03:24:38.840 - 03:24:39.360]
Michael R. Turner
Mr. Holmes, that information had nothing whatsoever to do with the subject matter of any of these hearings. It was anecdotal. It was extraneous. Your statements that your interests are protecting Ukraine are very dubious when you embarrass President Zelensky by making those statements that you didn't have to make.
[03:24:39.360 - 03:25:01.200]

Who cares that Ambassador Sondland said that? And, you know, you didn't embarrass Ambassador Sondland; you embarrassed Zelensky. Because you know he got asked this question in his own country, and people are hearing that statement as if it's true --
[03:25:01.200 - 03:25:23.720]
Adam B. Schiff
The time of the gentleman has expired.
[03:25:23.720 - 03:25:26.280]
Michael R. Turner
-- and it's totally dubious for you to do that.
[03:25:26.280 - 03:25:29.240]
Adam B. Schiff
Mr. Carson, you are recognized.
[03:25:29.240 - 03:25:31.720]
Michael R. Turner
I yield back.
[03:25:31.720 - 03:25:33.680]
Andre Carson
Thank you, Chairman. Thank you both for your service. Dr. Hill, I'd like to talk a little bit more in depth about Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's role in the events under investigation. You testified, ma'am, that Mr. Mulvaney and Ambassador Sondland were both involved with a letter President Trump sent to the Ukrainian President on May 29th congratulating him on his inauguration.
[03:25:33.680 - 03:25:58.440]

Do you recall that, ma'am?
[03:25:58.440 - 03:26:00.560]
Fiona Hill
I did, yes.
[03:26:00.560 - 03:26:02.920]
Andre Carson
And towards the end of that letter, President Trump closed with, quote, "I would like to invite you to meet me at the White House in Washington, D.C., as soon as we can find a mutually convenient time," end quote. Dr. Hill, was this congratulatory letter drafted through the normal procedures at the NSC that the NSC uses to send letters to foreign heads of state?
[03:26:02.920 - 03:26:29.760]
Fiona Hill
The first part of it was, except the last paragraph.
[03:26:29.760 - 03:26:33.680]
Andre Carson
You also testified that Ambassador Sondland told you that he had dictated that line to the President and that Mr. Mulvaney -- he told Mr. Mulvaney to add that to the letter. Is that correct, ma'am?
[03:26:33.680 - 03:26:48.440]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[03:26:48.440 - 03:26:49.240]
Andre Carson
You said that you were nervous about that. Why were you nervous, Dr. Hill?
[03:26:49.240 - 03:26:55.040]
Fiona Hill
Because, at this juncture, it had become quite apparent that the President wasn't very keen on having a meeting with Mr. Zelensky, for all the reasons that we've been trying to lay out today. And we were -- once one puts in a letter like that, you raise the expectation of an invitation coming shortly.
[03:26:55.040 - 03:27:14.280]
Andre Carson
Dr. Hill, you also testified, ma'am, that Ambassador Sondland was frequently meeting with Mr. Mulvaney. Mr. Giuliani's campaign of lies ultimately led to Ambassador Yovanovitch being recalled from her post in April 2019. You've also testified, ma'am, that her removal was pretty dispiriting and a turning point for you.
[03:27:14.280 - 03:27:36.560]

Can you explain to us why, ma'am?
[03:27:36.560 - 03:27:38.920]
Fiona Hill
Well, again, as we've all made clear, Ambassador Yovanovitch -- and you saw for yourselves in her deposition -- is a person of great integrity. She's one of our finest Foreign Service officers, career Foreign Service officers. And if there'd been a decision to remove her, to replace her with a political appointee, again, that is perfectly within the rights of the President.
[03:27:38.920 - 03:28:09.040]

Sometimes it's highly advisable, in fact, to emphasize to a country just exactly how close the relationship is likely to be, to have an appointee who is close to the President, if it's an important relationship. But what was dispiriting was all of the accusations that were being fired at Ambassador Yovanovitch, leading her to be tweeted, including by members of the President's family.
[03:28:09.040 - 03:28:33.720]

We all firmly believed that Mr. Giuliani and others, including people who were recently indicted, the Ukrainian-American gentlemen, had for some reason decided that Ambassador Yovanovitch was some kind of personal problem for them and that they had then decided to engage in just the kinds of things we've been discussing about.
[03:28:33.720 - 03:28:54.720]

And, frankly, she was an easy target as a woman. And I'm very sorry to hear about what's happened to Congressman Stefanik. And I think that this just illustrates the point and the problem that we're dealing with here today.
[03:28:54.720 - 03:29:10.640]
Andre Carson
Certainly. I was also struck by your testimony that you were also the target of false accusations during your time in the Trump administration. You testified, ma'am, about receiving hateful calls and being accused of being, quote, "a mole in the White House." You testified about death threats and calls at your home.
[03:29:10.640 - 03:29:37.120]

Is that right?
[03:29:37.120 - 03:29:37.640]
Fiona Hill
That's correct. That was in 2017.
[03:29:37.640 - 03:29:39.520]
Andre Carson
Well, I'm sorry you've had to go through all of this, ma'am. You don't strike me as a woman who is easily deterred. You're not easily deterred, are you, Dr. Hill?
[03:29:39.520 - 03:29:52.240]
Fiona Hill
I'm not, no.
[03:29:52.240 - 03:29:55.080]
Andre Carson
Thank you both for your service. I yield back, Chairman.
[03:29:55.080 - 03:29:59.800]
Fiona Hill
Thank you, sir.
[03:29:59.800 - 03:30:01.920]
Adam B. Schiff
I thank the gentleman for yielding. Just another fact check. And, again, my caution to both of you that representations about what prior witnesses said or what you have even said may not be consistent with the facts. This was from Ambassador Sondland's opening statement. "After the Zelensky meeting, I also met with Zelensky's senior aide, Andriy Yermak.
[03:30:01.920 - 03:30:22.760]

I don't recall the specifics of our conversation, but I believe the issue of investigations was probably a part of that agenda or meeting." I now recognize Dr. Wenstrup. Dr. Wenstrup. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you both for being here. You know, in 1998, I voluntarily joined the United States Army Reserve because I saw our country under attack time and time again.
[03:30:22.760 - 03:30:54.280]

Bill Clinton was the President. I didn't vote for Bill Clinton, but he was my Commander in Chief. It didn't matter that I didn't vote for him. I'm grateful to live in a country that gets to legitimately elect our leaders. And I've been to places where people don't get to, and it's not pretty. And I respect our system, and I accept the results that are determined by the American people.
[03:30:54.280 - 03:31:31.960]

I deployed to Iraq 2005-2006 as an Army surgeon with soldiers from many backgrounds. The most important thing was we were all Americans. That was first and foremost. In our mission, we treated our troops, we treated the enemy, winning over the hearts and minds of people that never knew us because of their dictator, Saddam Hussein, who told them that we were responsible for all their problems, and that was his narrative.
[03:31:31.960 - 03:32:08.920]

And speaking of narratives, Dr. Hill, I'm sorry, I have to say this. You said, based on statements you've heard, that some on this committee believe Russia did not conduct a campaign against our country -- is false. That's Mr. Schiff's narrative. That's where you've heard it. We did a whole report on it. And we agree that Russia has done this since the Soviet Union, and they've actually gotten better at it. That's a problem.
[03:32:08.920 - 03:32:30.640]

But, at the same time, certain Ukrainians did work against candidate Trump, some with the DNC. And if that's debunked, why is it Mr. Schiff has denied DNC operative Alexandra Chalupa from testifying to come forward and debunk it? I ask America, was it good for the country for the DNC and the Clinton campaign to pay Christopher Steele to dig up fake dirt with other Foreign Service sources on their political rival?
[03:32:30.640 - 03:33:00.160]

Was it good for America to claim having evidence of the President colluding with Russians when he did not, costing the taxpayer millions and being debunked by special counsel? I'd say the false narrative got caught. Was it good for the country for Americans and foreigners alike to attempt to entrap members of a United States Presidential campaign, specifically the Trump campaign?
[03:33:00.160 - 03:33:24.520]

Sadly, I've come to believe through all this that some in power do think it's good. They think it's okay. And now we're here at an impeachment proceeding -- certainly a right that Congress has and, apparently, even with very partisan rules. But I'm curious. This impeachment inquiry was announced by the Speaker before the whistleblower complaint was even out.
[03:33:24.520 - 03:33:43.640]

I'm curious why the lawyer for the whistleblower announced that the coup to impeach the President -- that he announced that right after Trump won. That's pretty damning. I know it hurts after losing an election, especially as Americans. We usually get over it. And I imagine it would hurt even more if you were promised a position in the next administration and lost and your hopes and your dreams are dashed.
[03:33:43.640 - 03:34:11.560]

You know, I've seen hatred for political reasons, specifically on June 14th, 2017, at a ball field in Virginia. And I've seen hatred in war. And I know that hatred blinds people. I've been in war, and I've studied war. And coups create division. And it's time for this phase of the publicly announced and proclaimed Democrat coup to end.
[03:34:11.560 - 03:34:33.680]

Thank you for your service. Thanks for being here. And I yield back.
[03:34:33.680 - 03:34:36.800]
Fiona Hill
Could I actually say something? Because we've had three --
[03:34:36.800 - 03:34:39.400]
Adam B. Schiff
Doctor, I was going to ask you if you'd like to respond. There have been a number -- Dr. Wenstrup. No. I yielded back. Let me ask the question.
[03:34:39.400 - 03:34:49.280]

The gentleman will suspend. Dr. Hill, you may respond.
[03:34:49.280 - 03:34:53.600]
Fiona Hill
No, I think that what Dr. Wenstrup said was very powerful, about the importance of overcoming hatred and, certainly, partisan division. And it's unfortunate that Congressmen Turner and Ratcliffe have both left, as well. Because I think all of us who came here under a legal obligation also felt we had a moral obligation to do so. We came as fact witnesses.
[03:34:53.600 - 03:35:17.440]

When I was referring to questions that I'd heard, it was in the context of the deposition that I gave on October 14th. Because I was very worried about the turn which some of the questions were taking. And I understand that the point is being raised about individuals, as you have just said, Dr. Wenstrup, and that these articles lay out, taking different positions in our elections.
[03:35:17.440 - 03:35:43.120]

I don't believe there should be any interference of any kind in our election. I think it was unfair for people to already call the election and to make attacks also on candidate Trump and on President Trump. And I know that this has put a huge cloud over this Presidency and also over our whole democratic system.
[03:35:43.120 - 03:36:01.360]

That's actually why, as a nonpartisan person and as an expert on Russia and an expert on Vladimir Putin and on the Russian security services, I wanted to come in to serve the country, to try to see if I could help. I heard President Trump say that he wanted to improve the relations with Russia. I believe we have to. We can't be in this unending confrontation with Russia.
[03:36:01.360 - 03:36:27.120]

We have to find a way to stabilize that relationship and to professionalize that relationship, as well as to stop them from doing what they did in 2016 again in 2020. This is really the crux of the issue that I and others are trying to put across and, I think, that you've put across very eloquently. The other matters related to this inquiry, we're here just to provide what we know and what we've heard.
[03:36:27.120 - 03:36:54.360]

I understand that, for many members, this may be hearsay. I've talked about things I heard with my own ears. I understand that Ambassador Sondland has said a lot of things. I have told you what he told me and what others told me. A lot of other people have said things to me again, as well, and also to Mr. Holmes, and we're here to relate to you what we heard, what we saw, and what did and to be of some help to all of you in really making a very momentous decision here.
[03:36:54.360 - 03:37:20.520]

We are not the people who make that decision. And I do again want to underscore what you said here, Dr. Wenstrup -- it was very eloquent and very moving -- about your service and trying to bring us all together again as Americans. We need to be together again in 2020 so the American people can make a choice about the future and make their vote in a Presidential election without any fear that this is being interfered in from any quarter whatsoever.
[03:37:20.520 - 03:37:49.640]

And so I just want to thank you for making what I think was also a very elegant and eloquent and heartfelt defense. Dr. Wenstrup. Thank you.
[03:37:49.640 - 03:38:02.760]
Adam B. Schiff
Thank you, Dr. Hill. Ms. Speier?
[03:38:02.760 - 03:38:06.160]
Jackie Speier
Chairman, thank you. And, Dr. Hill and Mr. Holmes, thank you both for being fact witnesses. We are here as fact-finders, and we appreciate very much your presentations. Dr. Hill, I want to verify this story. I understand that when you were 11 years old there was a schoolboy who set your pigtails on fire.
[03:38:06.160 - 03:38:25.760]

And you were taking a test. You turned around and, with your hands, snuffed out the fire and then proceeded to finish your test. Is that a true story?
[03:38:25.760 - 03:38:37.560]
Fiona Hill
It is a true story. I was a bit surprised to see that pop up today. It's one of the stories I occasionally tell because it had some very unfortunate consequences afterwards. My mother gave me a bowl haircut. So, for the school photograph later in that week, I looked like Richard the III or as if I'm going to be in a permanent --
[03:38:37.560 - 03:38:57.840]
Jackie Speier
Well, I think it underscores the fact that you speak truth, that you are steely. And I truly respect that. Let me move to your testimony in your deposition. You had indicated you were deeply troubled by Ambassador Yovanovitch's -- the attacks on her. And you underscored again today that all ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the President.
[03:38:57.840 - 03:39:26.120]

And, certainly, in the case of Ambassador Yovanovitch, he could've just asked her to come home. But that didn't happen. In fact, there was a systematic character assassination that went on. It went on from 2018, if I'm not mistaken. But you say, "And the most obvious explanation, at this point, it has to be said, seemed to be business dealings of individuals who wanted to improve their investment positions inside of Ukraine itself." You were then asked, "Who do you understand was responsible for her removal?" And you said, "I understand this to be the result of the campaign that Mr. Giuliani had set in motion in conjunction with people who were writing articles and, you know, publications that I would have expected better of. And, also, you know, just the constant drumbeat of these accusations that he was making on the television." So Rudy Giuliani was playing fast and furious in Ukraine, it would appear.
[03:39:26.120 - 03:40:26.920]

Is that correct?
[03:40:26.920 - 03:40:27.960]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[03:40:27.960 - 03:40:29.280]
Jackie Speier
And he had no official tasking within the administration. Is that correct?
[03:40:29.280 - 03:40:34.560]
Fiona Hill
Not that I had been told of.
[03:40:34.560 - 03:40:37.560]
Jackie Speier
But he frequently met with Ukrainian officials to request that they open an investigation?
[03:40:37.560 - 03:40:43.840]
Fiona Hill
So I was led to understand, yes.
[03:40:43.840 - 03:40:46.800]
Jackie Speier
You testified that Mr. Giuliani's involvement was, quote, "a massive complication in terms of our engagement with Ukraine."
[03:40:46.800 - 03:40:55.960]
Fiona Hill
That's correct.
[03:40:55.960 - 03:40:57.000]
Jackie Speier
Would you like to explain that?
[03:40:57.000 - 03:40:59.360]
Fiona Hill
Well, I think I already laid that out in an earlier part of response to some of the questions. We were actually conducting -- which, you know, for a lot of the American people might seem to be a rather boring, standard bilateral policy toward Ukraine, pushing them on issues of reform in the energy sector.
[03:40:59.360 - 03:41:18.920]

And, more broadly, we were concerned, obviously, about corruption in Ukraine. We were trying to help Ukraine regain its sovereignty after the attacks by Russia --
[03:41:18.920 - 03:41:33.720]
Jackie Speier
So how did Mr. Giuliani's involvement affect --
[03:41:33.720 - 03:41:36.280]
Fiona Hill
Well, we basically had worked out over a course of 2 years, in conjunction, close conjunction with the Embassy in Kyiv, an interagency-agreed action plan. And these are things that, in fact, Colonel Vindman and others were working on, basically moving forward on the various issues that were on the list of items.
[03:41:36.280 - 03:41:57.720]

Clearly, Rudy Giuliani and other people didn't care at all about this. Frankly --
[03:41:57.720 - 03:42:07.840]
Jackie Speier
All right.
[03:42:07.840 - 03:42:08.680]
Fiona Hill
-- Ambassador Sondland wasn't particularly interested in it either. It's quite boring. It wouldn't make for good copy in the press. And it's the kind of thing that everybody in a routine moves forward on.
[03:42:08.680 - 03:42:21.520]
Jackie Speier
Mr. Holmes, you talked about the extraordinary power that Russia tries to assert against Ukraine. So, since President Zelensky never got his White House meeting, doesn't that make Ukraine look weak, and doesn't that benefit Russia?
[03:42:21.520 - 03:42:36.680]
David Holmes
Absolutely it does.
[03:42:36.680 - 03:42:39.360]
Jackie Speier
All right. So promoting Putin's false claim of Ukraine intervention into the U.S. election also benefits Russia, doesn't it?
[03:42:39.360 - 03:42:47.720]
David Holmes
It does.
[03:42:47.720 - 03:42:48.760]
Jackie Speier
So, when President Trump meets privately with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit, who does that benefit?
[03:42:48.760 - 03:42:58.880]
David Holmes
Well, it doesn't help Ukraine.
[03:42:58.880 - 03:43:00.960]
Jackie Speier
It doesn't help Ukraine. And by President Trump calling Ukraine corrupt, and not North Korea, for instance, does that accrue to Russia's benefit?
[03:43:00.960 - 03:43:11.720]
David Holmes
Again, it doesn't help Ukraine.
[03:43:11.720 - 03:43:13.560]
Jackie Speier
All right. I thank you. And, Mr. Chairman, I'll yield the rest of my time to you.
[03:43:13.560 - 03:43:19.600]
Adam B. Schiff
You're yielding me 3 seconds. Not even I can make use of 3 seconds. Mr. Stewart.
[03:43:19.600 - 03:43:28.280]
Chris Stewart
Thank you. Dr. Hill, Mr Holmes, thank you for being here. I actually have no questions for you that haven't already been asked or made any points that haven't already been made, and I guess I'll just conclude by something I've said before. This impeachapalooza tour finally comes to an end. I mean, a year of resistance, 2-1/2 years of these absurd accusations against the President of Russia and collusion.
[03:43:28.280 - 03:43:58.080]

We've gone from quid pro quo to bribery to extortion, 7 weeks of hearings, 16 secret closed-door sessions, 12 public hearings, now of which you are the last, hundreds of hours of testimony. And I really think that, for those who hate the President, they haven't changed their minds, but there's a lot of Americans who look at this and they think, is that it? Really?
[03:43:58.080 - 03:44:26.040]

You're going to impeach and remove a President for this? Now, like I said, if you don't like the President, you've already come to that conclusion. Many people wanted this 3 years ago. But for a lot of Americans, they really look at that, and they can see this: no evidence, zero evidence of any bribery, zero evidence of extortion, zero evidence firsthand of any quid pro quo.
[03:44:26.040 - 03:44:50.960]

And yet impeachment is almost inevitable. And why? Because the leadership of this committee has been unfair and dishonest. And I know we hear these crocodile tears from some of my colleagues who are heartbroken because they finally have to impeach this President, and we know that's absurd. There's no heartbroken, there's no prayerful tears over this.
[03:44:50.960 - 03:45:12.960]

They're giddy over this. And there's not a person in the country who doesn't know that. Everyone knows what they're going to do next. They're going to impeach the President, and they're going to send it on to the Senate. But that is the good news. That's good news. You know, we've all been to a concert. You've got the warm-up band, and then you've got the main act.
[03:45:12.960 - 03:45:33.640]

And what we've seen here is the warm-up band. This is kind of like the Sioux City Crooners; this is a band that no one's ever heard of. But the warm-up band is over, and now we're going to go on to the main event, and that's in the U.S. Senate. And, in the U.S. Senate, there won't be any secret testimony.
[03:45:33.640 - 03:45:49.040]

There's not going to be dishonest leadership or a chairman who refuses to let us ask appropriate questions or to deny a defense. Where in the world, where in the country do you have a trial where the prosecution presents their case and the defense isn't able to? So we'll finally be able to get to the truth.
[03:45:49.040 - 03:46:08.920]

And so I'm talking now to my colleagues in the Senate: These are some of the witnesses that you need to call, and these are some of the questions that you need to ask. First, you have to hear from the whistleblower. Now, they can choose to do that in closed session if they want to. I leave that up to them.
[03:46:08.920 - 03:46:25.840]

But you can't initiate an impeachment of the President of the United States and not have to answer some questions. Who did he get his information from? Did he have the classification and the clearances to get that information? What's his relationship with Vice President Biden? Who has he shared that information with, including some members of the committee here?
[03:46:25.840 - 03:46:48.680]

I think our own chairman needs to be called. What interactions