In the ongoing impeachment hearings into US President Donald Trump, his former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill described the idea that Ukraine rather than Russia interfered in the 2016 election as a "fictional narrative."
US President Donald Trump's former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill described on Thursday the idea that it was Ukraine rather than Russia that interfered in the 2016 presidential election as a "fictional narrative."
Hill made the remarks as part of the ongoing impeachment hearing into Trump. She said that Russian interference in 2016 was "beyond dispute" and that Russia was clearly gearing up to interfere in the 2020 presidential election.
Hill told lawmakers: "We are running out of time to stop them."
"I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternative narrative that the Ukrainian government is a US adversary, and that Ukraine — not Russia — attacked us in 2016," Hill told the hearing.
She also said that the ongoing inquiry and its fallout was "exactly what Russia would want." She claimed that it "appeared to be the case" that Trump listened to the advice of his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and not those of his official advisers.
Republicans have attempted to show that it was Ukraine rather than Russia that interfered in the elections amid accusations that Russian interference aided Trump's victory over Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Diplomat: Ukraine president would do 'anything Trump wanted'
David Holmes, a US envoy based in the US embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, also gave evidence on Thursday. He said that his "clear impression" was that US aid to Ukraine was directly linked to the Ukrainian president launching an investigation into Trump's potential presidential rival, Democrat Joe Biden.
In his testimony, Holmes said he overheard a phone conversation between US President Donald Trump and the US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, who gave evidence on Wednesday.
Holmes says Sondland and Trump discussed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy "doing the investigation," apparently into Biden and his son's ties to a Ukrainian gas company.
According to Holmes, Sondland told Trump that Zelenskiy would do it and would do "anything you ask him to" and that "he loves your ass."
Holmes also alleged that Trump only cared about "big stuff" like the Biden investigation and not about Ukraine.
Trump immediately rubbished the claim on Twitter.
Inquiry will decide if Trump is 'compatible with the role of President'
In his opening statement, Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, described the idea of Russian interference in the 2016 election as a "conspiracy theory."
"From the Russia hoax to this shoddy Ukrainian sequel, the Democrats got caught," he said. "Let's hope they finally learn a lesson, give their conspiracy theories a rest, and focus on governing for a change."
Adam Schiff, Democratic Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee reminded the hearing that it could remove the president.
"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 up to us to decide, whether those acts are compatible with the office of the Presidency," he said.
Later, the White House suggested Trump wanted the impeachment trial to advance so that the president could receive a fair trail and due process.
"President Trump wants to have a trial in the Senate because it’s clearly the only chamber where he can expect fairness and receive due process under the Constitution," spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement.
"We would expect to finally hear from witnesses who actually witnessed, and possibly participated in corruption - like Adam Schiff, Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and the so-called Whistleblower, to name a few," Gidley said,
The inquiry stems from a phone call Trump made to Zelenskiy on July 25 in which he prodded Kyiv to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.
Trump and his allies have dismissed the impeachment hearings as a desperate attempt by Democrats to oust him from power.
The impeachment hearings continue.
cw,ed/aw (AP, Reuters)