Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill, and David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, are sworn in to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Fiona Hill and David Holmes to testify at impeachment hearing

Two pivotal witnesses are set to testify at the last public hearing in the impeachment inquiry before Congress leaves for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Fiona Hill, a former senior director for Russia on the National Security Council (NSC), and David Holmes, a diplomat in the U.S. embassy in Kiev, will testify together before the House Intelligence Committee beginning at 9 a.m.

Hill was present for a meeting at the White House on July 10, in which U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland raised the prospect of investigations into the 2016 campaign and a company tied to the Bidens with high-level Ukrainian officials. Hill testified earlier that her boss at the time, National Security Adviser John Bolton, told her to report the incident, which he likened to a “drug deal,” to the top lawyer on the NSC.

Holmes overheard a conversation between Sondland and President Trump on July 26, a day after the president urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open the investigations. Holmes said Sondland told the president that Zelensky would do “anything you ask him to.”

Both have testified previously behind closed doors.

Who is Fiona Hill?

6:30 a.m.: Hill is a former senior director and top Russia expert on the National Security Council who left her post in July, before the president’s call with Zelensky.

In her closed-door testimony before House lawmakers in October, Hill testified about the July 10 meeting at the White House with Ukrainian officials where Sondland brought up investigations.

“Ambassador Sondland had basically indicated that there was an agreement with the chief of staff that they would have a White House meeting or, you know, a presidential meeting if the Ukrainians started up these investigations again,” she told the committees in earlier testimony.

She said Bolton cut the meeting short and told her to “go and tell Eisenberg that I am not part of this drug deal that Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” referring to John Eisenberg, the top lawyer on the NSC, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Hill testified that Bolton “described Giuliani as a bit of a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up” and “made it very clear that, you know, again, he didn’t think anybody should be dealing with Giuliani.”
— Stefan Becket

Who is David Holmes?
5:45 a.m.: Holmes is a counselor for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in Kiev. Bill Taylor, the top diplomat at the embassy, first revealed in testimony last week that Holmes had overheard Sondland talking about investigations with Mr. Trump on July 26.

“So, he’s gonna do the investigation?” Holmes said he heard Mr. Trump ask. “He’s gonna do it,” Sondland replied, adding he’d do “anything you ask him to.”

Holmes said Sondland later told him that “the president did not ‘give a s–t about Ukraine'” and that he only cares about “big stuff” like the “Biden investigation.”

Sondland disputed that portion of Holmes’ deposition at his own hearing on Wednesday, claiming he never mentioned the Bidens in the context of investigations. — Stefan Becket

What happened at Wednesday’s hearing

5:00 a.m.: At Wednesday’s first hearing, Sondland told the committees he worked with Rudy Giuliani to pursue a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine, luring the prospect of a White House meeting with Zelensky in exchange for the Ukrainians announcing the investigations.

Sondland said his efforts were known and supported by officials at the highest level of government, including by officials at the NSC and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He also said he raised concerns about a delay in U.S. military aid to Ukraine with Vice President Mike Pence directly. Both Pompeo and Pence denied Sondland’s account on Wednesday.

“The suggestion that we were engaged in some irregular or rogue diplomacy is absolutely false,” Sondland said, citing emails that “show that the leadership of State, [National Security Council] and the White House were all informed about the Ukraine efforts” beginning as early as May.

“Everyone was in the loop,” Sondland said. — Stefan Becket

How to watch Thursday’s hearing
Date: Thursday, November 21, 2019
Time: 9 a.m. ET
Who: Fiona Hill and David Holmes
Online stream: CBSN, in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device
On TV: Your local CBS station
First published on November 21, 2019 / 5:05 AM

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