Former Pompeo Adviser to Testify Wednesday: Impeachment Update

Billy House and Steven T. Dennis

(Bloomberg) -- House committees investigating President Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukraine heard Monday from former National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill, who left the administration last summer.

Here are the latest developments:

Two Parties, Two Views of Testimony (10:15 p.m.)

Democrats and Republicans on three House impeachment committees professed having decidedly different takes after taking 10 hours of testimony Monday Fiona Hill, a former top National Security Council expert on Russia,

Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a Democratic member of the Oversight Committee, called her “a very powerful and effective witness” who had helped make the case that that ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was mistreated by Trump and his allies.

“She was a victim or propaganda, conspiracy theories, and an organized political hit job on her and her reputation will be resurrected,” Raskin said of Yovanovitch, after Hill’s testimony.

But Republicans on the Oversight, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees continued to raise objections to the witness testimony being held in private. They refused to characterize what Hill said, or whether she was credible.

“That one is not a simple question -- yes or no,” said Representative Lee Zeldin, a New York Republican. But he did say that if the president had been inside the hearing room, and heard Hill’s testimony, he “would be excited about being able to tell you what he heard in there.”

Former Pompeo Adviser to Testify Wednesday (6:45 p.m.)

Michael McKinley, who resigned last week as a senior adviser to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, is scheduled to speak with House impeachment investigators on Wednesday, according to multiple officials familiar with the plans.

McKinley’s testimony will be followed two days later, on Friday, with an appearance by Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper, the officials said.

Both will testify behind closed doors. Members of the three committees -- Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight -- are investigating Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.

The news of their appearances came as Hill, who was until recently Trump’s top aide on Russia and Europe, was still testifying Monday evening. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent is scheduled to appear Tuesday, and Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, is set to testify Thursday.

Kent, who remains an employee of the State Department, is expected to testify Tuesday under subpoena, says an official working on the impeachment inquiry. Other witnesses have been issued subpoenas to give them legal cover to appear against the wishes of the White House.

State Department Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, who had also been scheduled for Thursday, is no longer scheduled to appear that day. It could not be learned if he is to be rescheduled.

Republicans Object as Ex-Trump Aide Hill Testifies (1:30 p.m.)

Republicans on the three committees conducting the investigation objected to Hill testifying behind closed doors.

Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania said Democrats were conducting “partisan star chamber” proceedings.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said previous witnesses testified privately “and not a single thing was said that was classified” or shouldn’t be made public.

Democrat Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, defended closed-door hearings, saying Republicans are upset they are losing a forum to serve as the president’s defenders. He said some witnesses may be called to testify publicly later.

Former Trump Aide Hill Arrives for Testimony (9:14 a.m.)

Hill arrived at the Capitol to give closed-door testimony Monday to the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry focusing on Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.

Hill’s testimony kicks off what could be a pivotal week in the probe, with at least three other witnesses scheduled to appear before the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform committees.

Hill served as the Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council until this summer. She left the post before the controversial July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Trump Calls for Whistle-Blower to Testify (7:03 a.m.)

Trump said the whistle-blower who raised concerns about his July 25 call with Ukraine’s president “must testify” to explain why his interpretation of the conversation was “sooo wrong, not even close.”

In a pair of Monday morning tweets, Trump suggested that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff might not actually want the whistle-blower to appear. Trump suggested over the weekend in remarks to a group of conservatives that he might sue Schiff for misrepresenting what he said on the now-infamous call with Ukraine’s president.

A transcript of the July 25 call released by the administration lined up closely with the whistle-blower’s account and indicated Trump asked Ukraine’s president to investigate Democrat Joe Biden, prompting the House impeachment inquiry.

The president also renewed his call for the whistle-blower’s identity to be revealed, despite federal law that protects his or her anonymity.

“We must determine the Whistleblower’s identity to determine WHY this was done to the USA,” he said.

Key Events

Schiff said the committees are set to hear in closed-door sessions from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union; George Kent, the State Department official in Washington who oversees Ukraine policy; and T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a State Department counselor.Congress will be back in Washington Tuesday after a two-week break, and House Democrats are likely to discuss their next steps in the impeachment inquiry. The three House committees stayed in Washington during the vacation to continue their hearings.Trump on Saturday called Rudy Giuliani “a great guy and a wonderful lawyer” who’s under attack from the “Deep State,” a day after saying he didn’t know if the former New York City mayor was still his attorney.

To contact the reporters on this story: Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.net;Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kevin Whitelaw at kwhitelaw@bloomberg.net, John Harney

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