The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry on Friday released a transcript of the closed-door testimony of Dr. Fiona Hill, the former senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council.
Hill testified that then-National Security Adviser John Bolton referred to Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine as a “drug deal,” and ordered others on the NSC to inform White House lawyers of the work that EU ambassador Gordon Sondland and others had done to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations that would be helpful to Trump’s reelection chances.
The “drug deal” in question was revealed in a meeting between Ukrainians and American officials that Hill attended. Per her testimony, Hill testified that Sondland blurted out something about an agreement between White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and the Ukrainians: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would receive his desired meeting with President Trump in exchange for opening the investigations that the White House sought.
After a Giuliani-led smear campaign led to the recall of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, National Security Adviser John Bolton called Giuliani “a hand grenade that is going to blow everybody up.”
In her testimony, Hill described the recall of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch as “a real turning point” for U.S. officials working on Ukraine. Rudy Giuliani’s months-long public campaign to paint Yovanovitch as disloyal to Trump had ultimately led State Department officials to believe “her position was no long tenable” as ambassador, Hill said, describing the reason for Yovanovitch’s ouster.
When she spoke to her supervisor, National Security Adviser John Bolton, about Yovanovitch’s ouster, Hill recalled, his reaction was “pained.”
“He directly said: ‘Rudy Giuliani is a hand grenade that is going to blow everybody up,’” Hill recalled.
Sondland “blurted out” a trade to the Ukrainians: A meeting between Trump and Zelensky in exchange for investigations.
Hill is one of a number of witnesses to describe a July 10 meeting among White House national security officials, led by John Bolton, and Ukrainian national security officials. In it, Hill testified, Sondland “blurted out” something that led Bolton to “stiffen” and end the meeting immediately.
Hill recalled Sondland saying: “Well, we have an agreement with the Chief of Staff for a meeting if these investigations in the energy sector start.”
Hill later testified that “it was apparent that this was code, at least, for Burisma.”
In a subsequent meeting, Sondland pressed the Ukrainians again. Bolton called it a “drug deal.”
Right after Bolton ended that July 10 meeting, Sondland continued to pressure the Ukrainians, Hill recalled, in a second meeting in the White House’s Ward Room. Bolton told Hill to go into the meeting and report back what was said. When Hill arrived, she saw the Ukrainians, Sondland and Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, among others.
Hill recalled that Sondland, in front of the Ukrainians, was “talking about how he had an agreement with Chief of Staff Mulvaney for a meeting with the Ukrainians if they were going to go forward with the investigations.” Certain members of both countries’ delegations looked alarmed at hearing that, Hill recalled.
Hill stopped Sondland, telling him the U.S. couldn’t make any such commitment. But Sondland cut her off, she recalled, repeating that “We have an agreement that they’ll have a meeting.” She challenged him again, at which point he asked the Ukrainians to leave the room.
“He started to basically talk about discussions that he had had with the chief of staff,” Hill recalled. “He mentioned Mr. Giuliani, but then I cut him off because I didn’t want to get further into this discussion.”
Reporting back to Bolton, Hill recalled that Bolton told her to report what she’d heard to NSC Counsel John Eisenberg, and to give Eisenberg a message from Bolton: “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this.”
Read Hill’s testimony here, or below: