Published: Tue, October 15, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Donald Trump's former top Russia adviser testifies to Congress about Ukraine scandal

Donald Trump's former top Russia adviser testifies to Congress about Ukraine scandal

The extent of Hill's testimony was not immediately known, but NBC News said in advance that she planned to say that Giuliani and Gordon Sondland, the USA ambassador to the European Union, circumvented the normal White House process and the National Security Council to pursue a shadow policy on Ukraine.

Donald Trump's former Russian Federation adviser testified for more than nine hours on Monday behind closed doors, the latest witness summoned in the impeachment inquiry against the US president over his request that Ukraine investigate a political rival. Her lawyer, Lee Wolosky, said she was subpoenaed by the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee and planned to answer lawmakers' questions.

With the impeachment inquiry charging ahead, Trump lashed out at House Intelligence Committee chairperson Adam Schiff after the Democratic lawmaker suggested the whistleblower might not testify out of concern for their safety. A cache of text messages between three diplomats provided by one of the inquiry's first witnesses, former Ukrainian envoy Kurt Volker, detailed attempts by the diplomats to serve as intermediaries around the time Trump urged Zelenskiy to start the investigations into a company linked to Biden's son.

A career foreign service officer and Pompeo's de facto chief of staff, Michael McKinley, resigned Friday, ending a 37-year career.

House Democrats also will have to decide whether they want to impeach the president, a topic that will no doubt continue to draw the ire of Trump while shrouding legislative action, making it that much harder to pass any measure. Democrats say it was a demand to investigate Joe Biden - the president's potential 2020 election rival - and a Ukrainian firm that hired Biden's son Hunter.

The House Intelligence Committee also is scheduled this week to hear from Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and State Department Counsellor Ulrich Brechbuhl, a top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, in an interview with CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, said the Pentagon would "do everything we can to comply" with the Democrats' subpoena.

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A person familiar with the testimony says Sondland is expected to tell Congress his text message reassuring another envoy there was no quid pro quo in their interactions with Ukraine was based exclusively on what he was told by Trump, who denies doing anything wrong.

Schiff said Sunday that Democrats "don't need the whistleblower, who wasn't on the call, to tell us what took place on the call".

Several weeks ago, Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that his committee hadn't directly spoken to the whistleblower.

Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House oversight committee, said he learned Monday morning that Schiff had subpoenaed Hill.

According to a rough recounting of the conversation supplied by the White House, Trump told Zelenskiy, "The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just wanted to let you know that".

The president has previously tweeted about his 94 percent approval rating among the Republican Party, despite sources including The Washington Post and Vox questioning where he obtained that figure from. Democrats say Congress is well within its power as the legislative branch to conduct oversight of the president and it is Republicans, having grown tired of Trump's actions, who may be in the greater political bind over a vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she wants the committees to work "expeditiously" as Democrats gather evidence and prepare to make a final decision on whether to vote to impeach the president.

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