A former White House Russia analyst on Thursday denounced as "fictional" the contention from some Republicans that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election and warned lawmakers not to advance a politically motivated narrative helpful to Russia as they defend President Donald Trump in the impeachment probe.
"I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests," says Fiona Hill in prepared opening remarks to the House intelligence committee.
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Hill was an aide to national security adviser John Bolton and stressed that she is "nonpartisan" and has worked under Republican and Democratic presidents.
"I have no interest in advancing the outcome of your inquiry in any particular direction, except toward the truth," Hill said. But she said the conclusion by US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the election "is beyond dispute".
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".
"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," she said.
Some Republicans have advanced the Ukraine election interference talking point as they seek to defend Trump from allegations that he pressed Ukraine's president to investigate Democrats and rival Joe Biden as he was withholding military aide.
They, and Trump himself, have said he was trying to root out corruption in the country.
Hill said US support for Ukraine, "which continues to face armed Russian aggression, has been politicised".
Hill is one of two key witnesses House impeachment investigators will hear on Thursday, capping an intense week in the historic inquiry. Both Hill and David Holmes, a political counselor at the US Embassy in Kyiv, grew alarmed by how President Donald Trump and others in his orbit were conducting foreign policy in Ukraine.
Holmes says he was having lunch with Ambassador Gordon Sondland this summer when he overheard Trump on the phone asking the envoy about the investigations he wanted from the Ukraine president. The colorful exchange was like nothing he had ever seen, Holmes said in an earlier closed-door deposition.
Hill has said Bolton cut short a meeting with visiting Ukrainians at the White House when Sondland started asking them about "investigations".
In her prepared testimony, Hill stressed that she is a "nonpartisan foreign policy expert" who has served both Republican and Democratic administrations.
"I have no interest in advancing the outcome of your inquiry in any particular direction, except toward the truth," her statement reads. But she will stress the conclusion by US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the election "is beyond dispute" and argue Russia is winning when the nation is in turmoil.
"The impact of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today. Our nation is being torn apart," she will say.