President Donald Trumps former Russia adviser testified behind closed doors on Oct. 14 as part of the Democrat-run impeachment inquiry focused on the presidents request for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
Fiona Hill, former senior director for European and Russian Affairs on Trumps National Security Council, arrived at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 14. She walked past reporters and made no comment. Hill may provide information to lawmakers about the Trump administrations reassignment of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
On Oct. 11, Yovanovitch told lawmakers that she was reassigned based on “unfounded and false claims.” The events surrounding Yovanovitchs removal are part of a whistleblower complaint that triggered the impeachment inquiry.
The whistleblower, who remains anonymous, alleged that Trumps request to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July 25 call may have amounted to a violation of campaign finance law. The Justice Department determined no further action was necessary after reviewing the complaint.
Trumps request echoed reporting by The New York Times, The Hill, and investigative journalist Peter Schweizer, which questioned Hunter Bidens position on the board of directors of a major Ukrainian gas firm, Burisma. Joe Biden bragged in early 2018 about forcing the firing of a top Ukrainian prosecutor by withholding $1 billion in loan guarantees.
Ukraine immediately removed the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin. In a sworn statement to a European court, Shokin said he was fired due to pressure from Biden because he refused to drop the Burisma investigation.
On Oct. 13, Hunter Bidens lawyer confirmed that his client held a paid position on the Burisma board for five years. Biden also promised to not do any work for foreign companies if his father was elected.
In another development, Trey Gowdy, a former Republican congressman who on Oct. 9 announced that he was joining Trumps impeachment legal team, will no longer be doing so, at least for now, according to Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry before the White House released a copy of the transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky. A plain reading of the transcript shows no obvious evidence of a quid pro quo. Democrats have nonetheless alleged, without evidence, that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Zelensky. The Ukrainian president has said he didnt feel pressured on the call with Trump.
Republican congressman Matt Gaetz, an outspoken defender of Trump, was asked to leave the closed session about an hour into Hills testimony. Gaetz is not a member of any of the three House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry, and Gaetz told reporters that the House parliamentarian said he couldnt attend.
“Chairman Schiff and the radical democrats are now active participants in the coup. To exclude Members of Congress from hearings confirms the American peoples suspicions: this is not a legitimate impeachment inquiry—it is a charade,” Gaetz wrote on Twitter.
Chairman Schiff and the radical democrats are now active participants in the coup. To exclude Members of Congress from hearings confirms the American peoples suspicions: this is not a legitimate “impeachment inquiry” — it is a charade.