'US President Donald Trump ignored false Ukraine meddling tale'

Updated: Nov 22, 2019, 10:43 IST | Agencies | Washington

Testifies top Russia expert Fiona Hill on Day 5 of impeachment hearing.

Fiona Hill (left) and David Holmes testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Pic/AFP
Fiona Hill (left) and David Holmes testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Pic/AFP

Washington: A former national security council aide warned the Republic lawmakers at the impeachment inquiry hearing on Thursday to not push "fictional narrative perpetrated and propagated by Russia" that it was Ukraine that interfered with the US presidential election in 2016. Fiona Hill said the conclusion by US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election "is beyond dispute." "I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimise an alternative narrative that the Ukrainian government is a US adversary, and that Ukraine — not Russia — attacked us in 2016," said Hill, White House’s top expert on Russia.

She told the House Intelligence Committee that Trump was warned about the false theory that Ukraine tried to help the Democrats in the 2016 polls, but he instead listened to his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, BBC reported. Hill also warned that Russia is making another attempt to interfere in the 2020 election. "The Russian interest frankly is to de-legitimatise our entire presidency... The goal of the Russians was to put whoever became president... under a cloud. This is exactly what the Russian government was hoping for... they have everybody questioning the legitimacy of a presidential candidate... they would pit one side against the other," the Guardian quoted Hill as saying.

The impeachment inquiry focuses on allegations that Trump sought probe against of Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and the "false" narrative that Ukraine not Russia interfered in the 2016 US election. David Holmes, a political adviser at the US Embassy in Ukraine, also testified. According to AP, Holmes told the committee about a phone conversation between Trump and envoy Gordon Sondland. Holmes said he heard Trump ask Sondland if Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was "gonna do the investigation," and Sondland said yes.

Holmes testified that he asked Sondland if it was true that Trump didn’t care about Ukraine. "He [Sondland] said he really doesn’t care about Ukraine... he says he cares about big stuff. I asked him what kind of big stuff...war with Russia? He said no, big stuff like the Biden investigation that Mr Giuliani’s pushing," said Holmes. However, Sondland had earlier denied having spoken to Holmes about the Bidens, AP reported.

"This was a very distinctive experience... someone at a lunch... making a call on his cell phone to the president of the United States... they were directly addressing something that I had been working on for weeks and months... here he is actually having that contact. Hearing the president’s voice and hearing them talk about this Biden investigation issue that I’d been hearing about," said Holmes when asked why he remembers the call so well.

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