WASHINGTON — President Trump assigned numerous diplomats to carry out a “political errand” in Ukraine that diverged from national security concerns, a former senior Trump adviser said Thursday.
Fiona Hill, a Russia expert at the White House National Security Council until late July, detailed her frustration over the course of last spring and summer with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
“I had a couple of testy encounters with him,” Hill told the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday in the fifth day of impeachment inquiry public hearings. “I was upset with him that he wasn’t fully telling us about all the meetings he was having.”
Sondland was part of a group of diplomats who worked with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani starting last spring to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into a number of matters and people, including former Vice President Joe Biden. Sondland said in testimony Wednesday that he and others worked with Giuliani at the president’s instruction.
And Hill said that when she saw Sondland’s testimony, and in particular saw emails he had sent looping in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and then-national security adviser John Bolton, she realized why he was not talking to her or others at the NSC about meetings he was having with Ukrainian government officials.
“He was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security, foreign policy,” Hill said. “I was irritated with him and angry with him … and I did say to him, ‘Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up.’”
“And here we are,” Hill added.
She also said Sondland’s “feeling was that the National Security Council was always trying to block him,” and she confirmed that it was.
“What we were trying to do is block us from straying into domestic or personal politics, and that was precisely what I was trying to do,” Hill said.
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