GOP Counsel Once Again Accidentally Elicits Testimony Damaging To Trump

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: Ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes (L) (R-CA) and minority counsel Steve Castor (R) listen as Gordon Sondland, the U.S ambassador to the European Union, trestifies before the House Intellig... WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: Ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes (L) (R-CA) and minority counsel Steve Castor (R) listen as Gordon Sondland, the U.S ambassador to the European Union, trestifies before the House Intelligence Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill November 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony during the fourth day of open hearings in the impeachment inquiry against U.S. President Donald Trump, whom House Democrats say held back U.S. military aid for Ukraine while demanding it investigate his political rivals. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) MORE LESS

A line of questioning went completely off the rails for Republican staff attorney Steve Castor when he prompted former National Security Counsel senior director Fiona Hill to describe a disagreement she had with Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.

In response, Hill shared a damning recollection as she mapped out her realization that Sondland was “involved in a domestic political errand” while she was “involved in national security foreign policy”

“I was upset with him that he wasn’t fully telling us about all the meetings he was having,” she said of Sondland. “And he said to me ‘but I’m 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?'”

Hill recalled that she had been angry with Sondland for keeping her and other officials — like top Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor and U.S. diplomat David Holmes — in the dark about who he’d been meeting with and what he’d been doing, but that she soon realized that their missions had completely “diverged.”

She recounted Sondland’s complaint that the NSC was always trying to “block” him. “What we were trying to do is block us from straying into domestic or personal politics and that’s precisely what I was trying to do,” she said. “But Ambassador Sondland is not wrong that he had been given a different remit than we had been. And it was at that moment that I started to realize how those things had diverged.”

She said that she came to the realization that she hadn’t been entirely “fair” to Sondland, since “he was carrying out what he though he had been instructed to carry out.”

The problem was, she said, that his mission “wasn’t in the same channel” as the official national security apparatus.

Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA), seemingly catching on to how damaging Hill’s words were for the President, quickly jumped in to cut Castor off and bring the conversation back to more comfortable ground: conspiracy theories around the 2016 election.

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