Former top aide: Trump told ambassador to run secret Ukraine operation


Fiona Hill gave explosive testimony at a closed-door deposition that is part of the House impeachment probe.

A former top aide to Donald Trump added fuel to the impeachment fire on Monday, testifying that Trump deputized his U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. The aide, Fiona Hill, also said that one top White House official thought the effort was suspect enough to involve the White House's lawyers, the New York Times reported.

Hill made her claims during a closed-door deposition that is part of the impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Her testimony backs up claims from a whistleblower, whose complaint helped spark the impeachment inquiry that imperils Trump. And it also added new details about how deep the dubious effort went, according to the New York Times, including that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was also part of the pressure campaign.

During her testimony, she said she once confronted Sondland, a former Trump donor, on his involvement with Ukraine. In the confrontation, she asked who gave Sondland jurisdiction over Ukraine, to which he responded, "the president," according to the New York Times report.

Hill also said that now-former national security adviser John Bolton was so disturbed by the effort that he told Hill to go to the White House counsel to report on the shady smear campaign, the New York Times reported.

"I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up," Bolton told Hill, according to her testimony at the deposition, according to the New York Times.

The New York Times also reported that Hill said Bolton described Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was also working on the Ukraine operation, as a "hand grenade who's going to blow everybody up."

Hill gave her testimony, despite an effort by the Trump administration to gag potential witnesses from speaking openly to House investigators.

Hill's legal team, however, called the White House's bluff.

"We understand that deliberative process privilege, 'disappears altogether when there is any reason to believe government misconduct occurred,'" Hill's lawyers wrote to the Trump administration, according to a letter obtained by the New York Times.

Hill's testimony shows exactly why Trump has every reason to be concerned about the impeachment probe: The more facts that come out, the worse things look for him.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.