President Donald Trump’s former Russia adviser Dr Fiona Hill. (Reuters)
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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s former Russia adviser Fiona Hill urged lawmakers in the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry on Thursday not to promote “politically driven falsehoods” that cast doubt on Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Hill spoke on the final day of scheduled public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee probing whether Trump asked Ukraine to investigate a political rival in return for a White House meeting or the release of U.S. security aid.
If the committee calls no further witnesses, Hill’s request may set the stage for the Democratic-led House’s wider consideration of whether to draft formal charges known as articles of impeachment against the Republican president.
In her testimony, Hill said some members of the panel appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against the United States during the 2016 presidential race, and that perhaps Ukraine did.
“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” said Hill, who until July served as the director for European and Russian affairs at the White House National Security Council.
“In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” she said during the hearing, which ended after more than five hours of testimony.
The notion that Ukraine interfered in 2016 was one of two issues that the U.S. president urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate in a July 25 phone call that is at the heart of the impeachment effort.
Trump also pressed Ukraine on the call to investigate Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the 2020 presidential election, and his son Hunter, who had served on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
The inquiry is also examining whether Trump’s temporary freeze of $391 million in security aid to Ukraine, approved by Congress to fight Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country, was meant to pressure Zelenskiy to conduct the probes.
Democrats say Trump’s dealings with Ukraine amount to an abuse of power to pressure a vulnerable U.S. ally to dig up dirt on a domestic political rival.
Trump has denied wrongdoing, publicly criticized witnesses and described the impeachment proceedings as a “witch hunt.” His fellow Republicans call the proceedings a “sham.” (Reuters)