The Republicans’ questioning of Fiona Hill and David Holmes was an unintentionally hilarious train wreck for the Republicans, who seem not to care what answers come back to bite them.
Asked about officials’ children working overseas, Hill seemed to indict Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. “I think any family members … [are] open to questions about optics and perhaps of undue influence if they take part in any kind of activity that could be misconstrued as relating to the parent or any family member’s work.”
Asked if the “black ledger," evidence of the former regime’s payoffs to Paul Manafort, wasn’t a hit job, Holmes calmly responded that it revealed Ukrainian corruption. (Manafort was convicted of multiple counts stemming from his work for Russia’s man in Ukraine.)
Trying to circle back to the Steele dossier(!), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) unironically asked if it was wrong to send someone to muck around in a foreign country for dirt on an opponent. Both witnesses impassively said it was. This is of course precisely what President Trump did in dispatching Rudolph W. Giuliani to Ukraine.
Hill recounted that when he was in Washington, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland would brag about meeting with the president and other top officials. She was angry because he was not coordinating with the foreign policy team. However, she concluded after watching his testimony that they were not doing the same work. “He was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy,” she said matter-of-factly. “And those two things had just diverged.” Ouch.
Hill also demolished the testimony of former national security official Tim Morrison, who claimed she had problems with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s judgment. She was having none of it. “I did not relate any concerns in general terms about Col. Vindman’s judgment, so I was was somewhat surprised when I heard Mr. Morrison make that assertion,” she said. That was a polite way of calling him a fabricator. She explained that as Ukraine was becoming politicized, she was concerned that, as a military man, Vindman might not have the antennae to cope with these situations. She declared Vindman was “excellent” in his post.
This is what happens when feeble questioners do not know the answers they will elicit from smart witnesses. It is what happens when ludicrous conspiracy theories collide with the real world. And it is what happens when a patriot with a heart-tugging immigrant story stands up to bullies and liars. In short, Hill, with able assistance from Holmes, gave Republicans the thrashing they so richly deserved.