Former White House adviser Fiona Hill testified Thursday that she had warned Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, that his efforts in Ukraine on behalf of President Trump would “blow up.”

Hill, a Russia expert who reported directly to John Bolton when he was national security adviser, testified alongside David Holmes, a top staffer at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the impeachment inquiry.

Democrats are seeking information to bolster the case that Trump sought to leverage U.S. military aid to Ukraine and a White House visit by President Volodymyr Zelensky in exchange for investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, among others.

●Fiona Hill testifies in impeachment inquiry about a ‘fictional narrative’ on Ukrainian interference.

●Sondland acknowledges Ukraine quid pro quo, implicates Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others.

● Sondland’s bombshell testimony leaves Trump’s Republican allies scrambling.

●Testimony ensnares Pompeo in Ukraine scandal as he mulls political future.

12:45 a.m.
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Ivanka Trump wrongly quotes Tocqueville to make point about impeachment

By Colby Itkowitz

The frst daughter weighed in on her father’s impeachment Thursday evening with a quote from 19th century French historian Alexis de Tocqueville warning that impeachment could be used politically.

On Twitter, Ivanka Trump shared without comment this quote: “A decline of public morals in the United States will probably be marked by the abuse of the power of impeachment as a means of crushing political adversaries or ejecting them from office.”

Except, as several Twitter users noted, that quote is a vague paraphrase of Tocqueville used by a judge in 1889 to defend President Andrew Johnson who opposed rights for freed slaves after the Civil War and was later impeached.

10:50 p.m.
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Trump campaign dismisses Hill, Holmes testimony as ‘two more whiffs’

By Felicia Sonmez

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh shrugged off the latest testimony in the impeachment inquiry, arguing that Democrats have “managed to produce no evidence at all that President Trump did anything wrong.”

“Two more witnesses and two more whiffs by Democrats in their sham impeachment circus,” Murtaugh said. “Let’s remember that Nancy Pelosi promised she would not proceed with impeachment unless it was a bipartisan endeavor, which it clearly is not.”

10:45 p.m.
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Graham launches probe into Bidens, Burisma and Ukraine

By Colby Itkowitz

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Pompeo on Thursday requesting documents related to Biden and his communications with Ukrainian officials, a step seen as a GOP effort to counter the House impeachment investigation.

Graham’s inquiry is focused on any calls Biden may have had with Petro Poroshenko, then the Ukrainian president, regarding the firing of the country’s top prosecutor as well as any that referred to an investigation into Burisma, the Ukrainian natural gas company that employed Biden’s son, Hunter.

Graham’s document request suggests that he is seeking to legitimize Trump’s accusations that Biden, then vice president, put pressure on Ukraine to fire its lead prosecutor to protect his son, a claim without evidence that has been disputed by officials familiar with the investigation.

Read more here.

9:50 p.m.
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Mulvaney attorney sharply criticizes Hill’s testimony

By Rosalind S. Helderman

Robert Driscoll, an attorney for acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, dismissed Hill’s testimony in a statement after the hearing ended.

Driscoll said Hill’s remarks were “riddled with speculation and guesses about any role that Mr. Mulvaney played with anything related to Ukraine,” adding that “no court in this country” would give any weight to her testimony, and “neither should Congress or the public.”

Among other things, Hill had described Bolton characterizing the efforts of Sondland and Mulvaney on Ukraine as a “drug deal.”

“The fact is that Ms. Hill has never met Mr. Mulvaney other than in passing, and has never discussed anything with him regarding Ukraine,” Driscoll said. “We have no idea why Ms. Hill believes Mr. Mulvaney was so heavily involved, especially in light of Ambassador Sondland’s contrary testimony that he only spoke very infrequently to Mr. Mulvaney and had zero substantive conversations with him about Ukraine.”

9:30 p.m.
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White House and Republicans discuss limiting impeachment trial to two weeks

By Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey

A group of Republican senators and senior White House officials met privately Thursday to map out a strategy for a potential impeachment trial, including proceedings in the Senate that could be limited to about two weeks, according to multiple officials familiar with the talks.

Republican Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Graham, Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) met with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Mulvaney, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, according to the officials, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private meeting.

Read more here.

9:20 p.m.
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Schiff gavels hearing to a close

By Felicia Sonmez

After his fiery closing remarks, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) gaveled the hearing to a close, concluding the week’s testimony.

9:15 p.m.
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Trump’s actions are ‘beyond anything Nixon did,’ Schiff declares

By Aaron C. Davis

In case any doubt remained that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee would support impeaching Trump, Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) declared at the close of Thursday’s hearing that the president’s actions are far worse than anything President Richard Nixon had done.

Schiff acknowledged that no one witness had been able to fully explain the Trump administration’s freezing of nearly $400 million in security assistance for Ukraine. But he cited a news conference by acting White House cheif of staff Mick Mulvaney, who has defied a subpoena from the committee.

Despite criticism for a similar kind of comment in the past, Schiff briefly impersonated Mulvaney: “You’re darn right. Yes. We talked about the 2016 election investigation. And, yes, this was in the context of holding up the military aid and, you know, just get used to it or just get over or whatever it was he said,” Schiff said, adding “those are my words, not his.”

Schiff also took aim at Trump’s proclamation that he demanded nothing from Ukraine. “’No, no quid pro quo.’ This is the ‘I’m not a crook defense.’ You say it. And I guess that’s the end of it,” Schiff said.

That was just the beginning of parallels Schiff drew to the Watergate scandal and the resignation of Nixon.

“What we’ve seen here is far more serious than a third-rate burglary of the Democratic headquarters. What we’re talking about here is the withholding … of military aid to an ally at war — that is beyond anything Nixon did.”

There was little doubt Schiff had reached his conclusion on impeachment, pointing to the timing of Trump asking Zelensky for a favor in July.

“It came down to the fact that the day after [special counsel] Bob Mueller testified … Donald Trump is back on the phone asking another nation to involve itself in another U.S. election,” he said.

“And I would just say to people watching here at home and around the world, in the words of my great colleague, ‘We are better than that,’ ” he said, citing the words of the late House Oversight Committee chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.).


9:10 p.m.
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Howard Baker has left the building

By Karoun Demirjian

In his closing remarks, Schiff asked, “Where is Howard Baker?” The line was a reference to the Republican senator whose question during the Nixon impeachment — “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” — was seen as a turning point in those proceedings.

On Thursday, only three Republicans were in the room to hear Schiff ask the question.

The California Democrat delivered a lengthy closing argument, asking who in the GOP would put their duty over party and see Trump’s actions in Ukraine as bribery.

The answer is not many, if any. Even Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.), a retiring centrist who some thought might join Democrats in an impeachment vote, stated plainly Thursday that he had not “heard evidence proving the president committed bribery or extortion.”

But the image of nearly a full dais of Democrats — compared to only three Republicans present when Schiff asked the question — was a reminder of just how politically split the House will remain on impeachment, and how much more partisan the Trump era is than Nixon’s time.

“What we’ve seen here is far more serious than a third-rate burglary of the Democratic headquarters,” Schiff said, referring to the Watergate affair. “The difference between then and now is not the difference between Nixon and Trump. It’s the difference between that Congress and this one.”

The three Republicans in attendance were Reps. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the top Republican on the Intelligence panel; Jim Jordan (Ohio), the ranking member on the Oversight committee; and K. Michael Conaway (Tex.), who ran the GOP’s Russia probe.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) slipped back into her seat after Schiff’s question, before he gaveled out the hearing.

9:00 p.m.
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Hill says it was ‘not credible’ that Sondland didn’t connect Burisma and Bidens

By Karoun Demirjian

Hill testified that it was “not credible” that Sondland did not equate Burisma to the Bidens when Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, and others spoke of it.

“It’s not credible to me at all that he was oblivious to this,” Hill said, noting that it was obvious the name of the Ukrainian energy company was code for the president’s interest in investigating Hunter Biden.

Hill said Sondland’s effort to pressure the Ukrainians “was improper and it was inappropriate, and we said that in real time.”

She also noted that the July 10 conversation in which Sondland communicated the quid pro quo to the Ukrainians “was the first time it crystallized to me that there was a different channel” regarding Ukraine — a channel to pursue domestic priorities instead of foreign policy.

8:50 p.m.
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Hill denounces attacks calling her a mole for George Soros, calls them anti-Semitic

By Colby Itkowitz

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) recited a quote made by longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone to the far-right conspiracy theory website Infowars. Stone had called Hill “the globalist leftist George Soros insider who had infiltrated McMaster’s staff,” referring to Trump’s former national security adviser, H.R. McMaster.

“I think my coal-mining family would be very surprised to hear all of these things about me,” Hill deadpanned.

Stone and others have leveled the Soros conspiracy theories against former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch as well. Krishnamoorthi asked Hill whether she believed the attacks “have a tinge of anti-Semitism to them, at least?”

“Well, certainly when they involve George Soros, they do,” she said, comparing the campaign to an early 1900s document propagating lies about Jewish plans for global domination.

“This is the longest-running anti-Semitic trope that we have in history,” Hill said. “And the trope against Mr. Soros — George Soros — was also created for political purposes.”

“I’m sorry you’ve been kind of wrapped up in these crackpot conspiracy theories,” Krishnamoorthi said.

8:40 p.m.
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Republican lawmaker says Trump actions were ‘inappropriate,’ but no evidence of bribery or extortion

By Aaron C. Davis

Hurd, the rare GOP lawmaker to occasionally criticize Trump, went further than most Republicans in objecting to the actions uncovered so far in the impeachment inquiry.

Hurd zeroed in on Trump’s use of the word “favor” and naming the Bidens in his call with Zelensky in July. He said the testimony revealed that doing so was “inappropriate, misguided foreign policy. And it’s certainly not how the executive – current, or in the future – should handle such a call.”

Without citing specifics, Hurd also generally criticized the pressure campaign to get Ukraine to launch investigations as having “undermined our national security and undercut Ukraine, a key partner on the front lines against Russian aggression.”

He said the effort seemed particularly ill timed, sending “confusing and conflicting messages” to Kyiv. But that’s as far as Hurd would go. He said the congressional inquiry still lacked critical testimony from figures like Giuliani, who many witnesses have testified pressed Trump’s interests through U.S. officials.

“An impeachable offense should be compelling, overwhelmingly clear and unambiguous. And it’s not something to be rushed or taken lightly. I have not heard evidence proving the president committed bribery or extortion,” Hurd said.

8:25 p.m.
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Swalwell raises questions about reported ties between Nunes, Parnas

By Elise Viebeck

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) raised questions about purported ties between the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Giuliani.

The Daily Beast reported Wednesday night that Parnas helped arrange meetings and calls for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) in 2018, citing an interview with Parnas’s lawyer, Ed MacMahon. Swalwell asked that the article be entered into the record of the impeachment inquiry.

“Mr. Chairman,” he said, directing remarks to Schiff, “you have been falsely accused throughout these proceedings by the ranking member [Nunes] as being a ‘fact witness.’ Now, if this story is correct, the ranking member may have actually been projecting. In fact, he may be the fact witness, if he is working with indicted individuals around our investigation.”

The Daily Beast article stated that a spokesperson for Nunes did not respond to requests for comment before publication.

8:10 p.m.
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Hill says Americans need to come together in the face of election interference

By John Hudson

Hill expressed concern that foreign election interference has shaken Americans’ faith in their own democracy. She urged lawmakers to help citizens differentiate fact from fiction for the good of the country.

She said voters should go to the polls in 2020 “without any fear that this is being interfered in by and from any quarter whatsoever.”

Hill said she agreed to join the Trump administration because she believed in Trump’s desire to bring about closer relations to Russia.

“I heard President Trump say that he wanted to improve the relationship with Russia,” she said. “I believe we have to.”

She then made the case for stabilizing the U.S. relationship with Russia, saying it is crucial in order to “stop them from doing what they did in 2016 again in 2020.”

8:00 p.m.
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Hill says Giuliani, Sondland were uninterested in nuts-and-bolts of Ukraine policy

By Karoun Demirjian

Hill testified that Giuliani’s involvement in Ukraine posed a “huge complication” to long-term reforms and anti-corruption work that U.S. officials were trying to encourage in the country’s energy sector.

Hill said officials like herself and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman had worked for two years on an interagency action plan, but that “clearly Rudy Giuliani and other people didn’t care at all about this.”

“Ambassador Sondland wasn’t particularly interested in it, either,” Hill added. “It was quite boring, wouldn’t make for good copy in the press.”