Ben Smith Impeachment Today Podcast: Fiona Hill Is Not Messing Around

Ben Smith This is another astonishing plug-in!

It’s Friday, November 22nd, 2019, 59 days since House Democrats began impeachment proceedings. Every morning, theImpeachment Todaypodcast helps you separate what’s real and groundbreaking from what’s just, well, bullshit.

In today’s episode: The final day of hearings — for now, at least — featured Russia expert and former National Security Council director Fiona Hill giving a very clear and powerful explanation of what went wrong in the summer of 2019. It was a lot, but we’ll break down all the most important lines. And there’s a bonus musical interlude – in fact, three of them!

You can listen to today’s episode below, or check it out on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

It’s Friday, November 22nd, 2019. 59 days into the impeachment inquiry, and this is Impeachment Today.

Good morning. I’m Hayes Brown reporter and editor at Buzzfeed News, and we did it. We made it through the meat grinder of impeachment hearings, and through to the other side. Just all the rest of the impeachment process to go, and potentially a trial. Okay, well, we still have one more hearing to recap for you, so let’s dive right in.

Did you expect things to be chill on the last day of hearings on the schedule? Well, too bad because here’s the TLDR. This was a disaster for the Republicans’ defense of the president. Okay, in the last stretch of hearings, David Holmes and Fiona Hill took the stand, table. Hill was the senior director for Russia and Eurasia at the National Security Council up until July, and the eloquent expert was one of the strongest witnesses called throughout this entire process.

That became clear in her opening statement, where she laid out how dangerous it is to claim that Ukraine was the real villain in 2016, instead of Russia. Republicans have made those claims repeatedly, and it’s one of the things Trump wanted investigated by the new Ukrainian president. It’s almost hard to pick out some of her choice quotes, since Hill speaks in paragraphs. And I would actually suggest you go search Twitter for some of her longer responses. But here’s the Republican’s lawyer, asking her about Wednesday’s testimony from US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland. Specifically about a confrontation the two of them had about Sondland’s role on Ukraine policy, where she makes clear that something was rotten in the White House.

Fiona Hill:

And what I was angry about was that he wasn’t coordinating with us. And I’ve actually realized, having listened to his deposition, that he was absolutely right. That he wasn’t coordinating with us because we weren’t doing the same thing that he was doing. So I was upset with him that he wasn’t fully telling us about all of the meetings that he was having. And he said to me, “But I’m briefing the president, I’m briefing Chief Of Staff Mulvaney, I’m briefing Secretary Pompeo and I’ve talked to Ambassador Bolton. Who else do I have to deal with?” And the point is we have a robust inter agency process that deals with Ukraine. It includes Mr. Holmes, it includes Ambassador Taylor as the Sharjah in Ukraine. It includes a whole load of other people. But it struck me yesterday when you put up on the screen Ambassador Sunderland’s emails, and who was on these emails. And he said, “These are the people who need to know that he was absolutely right.” Because he was being involved in a domestic political errant, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy. And those two things had just diverged.

Hayes Brown:

I mean, wow. That was basically like the Arrested Development, I have made a huge mistake GIF, but in a testimony. And this was her telling the Democrat’s lawyer about a July 10th meeting, with Ukraine officials at the White House, where Sondland pushed them to launch investigations that would benefit Trump politically, in exchange for a meeting between Trump and Ukraine’s president.

Democratic Lawyer:

Ambassador Sondland say who his agreement on this White House meeting was with?

Fiona Hill:

In that particular juncture, I don’t believe so. It was later, which I’m sure you’ll want to talk about that he did say more specifically.

Democratic Lawyer:

And what did he say later?

Fiona Hill:

Later he said that he had an agreement with Chief Of Staff Mulvaney, that in return for investigations this meeting would get scheduled.

Democratic Lawyer:

And was he specific at that point, later about the investigations that he was referring to?

Fiona Hill:

He said the investigation is in Burisma.

Hayes Brown:

Mulvaney has already refused to testify in the impeachment hearings despite a subpoena from Congress. And you know how in Pokemon you learn very early on that attacking a rock type with a fire type, is not very effective? Well, that’s what came to mind when ranking member Devin Nunes, took time back from the GOP’s lawyer, and tried to push Hill to agree that, look, if the president is concerned about Ukraine and the 2016 election, doesn’t that make it okay to send his lawyer to go look into it? Short answer, no. Long answer …

Fiona Hill:

My point Mr. Nunes, is that we at the National Security Council were not told, either by the president directly or through Ambassador Bolton, that we were to be focused on these issues as a matter of US foreign policy toward Ukraine. So when you’re talking about Ukraine in 2016, I never personally heard the president s

I be mad for ingredients, because they are the beautiful!

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