Ukraine election interference claims fictional, impeachment probe told

Ukraine election interference claims fictional, impeachment probe told

A former White House analyst on Russia has denounced as “fictional” the contention from some Republicans that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election.

Fiona Hill, who is giving evidence to impeachment investigators on Thursday, was an aide to national security adviser John Bolton but she stressed she is “nonpartisan” and has worked under Republican and Democratic presidents.

In prepared opening remarks to the House Intelligence Committee, she also urged politicians not to “promote politically-driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests”.

She added: “I have no interest in advancing the outcome of your inquiry in any particular direction, except toward the truth.”

President Donald Trump stands accused of asking Ukraine to investigate his rivals (Evan Vucci/AP)
President Donald Trump stands accused of asking Ukraine to investigate his rivals (Evan Vucci/AP)

She said the conclusion by US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the election “is beyond dispute”.

But she said the assertion by some Republicans that Ukraine interfered in the election “is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves”.

She added: “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.”

Some Republicans have advanced the Ukraine election interference talking point as they seek to defend President Donald Trump from allegations that he pressed Ukraine’s leader to investigate Democrats and rival Joe Biden as he was withholding military aide.

They, and Mr Trump himself, have said he was trying to root out corruption in the country.

Ms Hill said US support for Ukraine, “which continues to face armed Russian aggression, has been politicised”.

David Holmes, a US diplomat in Ukraine, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee (Julio Cortez/AP)
David Holmes, a US diplomat in Ukraine, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee (Julio Cortez/AP)

She is one of two key witnesses House impeachment investigators will hear from in person on Thursday, capping an intense week in the historic inquiry.

Both Ms Hill and David Holmes, a political counsellor at the US Embassy in Kiev, grew alarmed by how Mr Trump and others in his orbit were conducting foreign policy in Ukraine.

Mr Holmes says he was having lunch with US Ambassador Gordon Sondland this summer when he overheard Mr Trump on the phone asking the envoy about the investigations he wanted from the Ukraine president.

The colourful exchange was like nothing he had ever seen, Mr Holmes said in an earlier closed-door deposition.

Ms Hill has said Mr Bolton cut short a meeting with visiting Ukrainians at the White House when Mr Sondland started asking them about “investigations”.

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