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Key Witnesses Fiona Hill and David Holmes Questioned in Public Impeachment Hearing; Holmes: "My Clear Impression" Was U.S. Aid Was Connected to Ukraine's Investigation of Bidens. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired November 21, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] JORDAN: -- last week, you come forward with supposedly this new information? There is nothing different in there than what we had on the transcript. Maybe that's the reason their star witness, their first witness didn't bring it up. But they had to have something, so you're their closing witness because you overheard -- you overheard the president talking to Ambassador Sondland.
HOLMES: Sir, if I could answer, I see four seconds left on the clock. I believe...
SCHIFF: Mr. Holmes, you may take as long as you need.
HOLMES: Thank you, sir.
I believe that Ambassador Taylor did already know when I briefed him when I returned from vacation on the 6th. He -- it was not news to him that the president was pressing for a Biden investigation...
JORDAN: That's not what I asked. I asked why he didn't share it with us. Well?
SCHIFF: Jordan -- Mr. Jordan, please do not interrupt the witness any further.
HOLMES: This -- this is exactly what I...
SCHIFF: Mr. Jordan's time is expired but yours is not.
HOLMES: OK. Thank you, sir.
SCHIFF: You may answer the question.
HOLMES: It's exactly my point. I briefed the call in detail to the deputy chief of mission, went away for a week, come back, I refer to the call and everyone is nodding. Of course that's what's going on, of course the president is pressing for a Biden investigation before he'll do these things the Ukrainians want. There was nodding agreement.
So did I go through every single word in the call? No, because everyone by that point agreed. It was obvious what the president was pressing for. And Ambassador Taylor, as you've just outlined, had all those other interactions with all these other...
JORDAN: But he didn't share it with us.
SCHIFF: Mr. Jordan, please do not interrupt.
HOLMES: But, sir -- sir, that...
HOLMES: ... but, sir, my vivid recollection of an event I was involved with was a touchstone experience that to me, validated...
SCHIFF: Mr. Jordan, please do not interrupt.
HOLMES: ... what we believed. And Ambassador Taylor was not in that call. He was...
JORDAN: And so all of a sudden, last week, you've got to come tell us, right?
SCHIFF: Mr. Jordan -- Mr. Jordan...
JORDAN: Even though your boss...
SCHIFF: ... you will allow the witness to answer the question.
HOLMES: I'll finish with this.
SCHIFF (?): Thank you.
HOLMES: He was involved in a number of other interactions, as you've outlined, that brought him to the same conclusion. It is quite possible that that...
JORDAN: But he doesn't share the one that...
JORDAN: ... the guy he worked with...
SCHIFF: ... Jordan -- Mr. Jordan -- Mr. Jordan...
JORDAN: ... he doesn't share that one?
SCHIFF: You may not like the witness' answer, but we will (ph) hear it.
JORDAN: No, I -- I -- there wasn't an answer. It was a filibuster.
SCHIFF: Mr. Jordan, we will hear the witness' answer. Have you concluded, Mr. Holmes?
HOLMES: I have, sir. Thank you.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
HIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Hill, Mr. Holmes, thank you for your testimony.
Dr. Hill, you made a fairly dramatic comment in your opening statement, to which the ranking member took some exception. I'm more interested in the Ukraine piece of this, but you said, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country, and that perhaps somehow for some reason Ukraine did. I'm really much more interested in the Ukraine piece of this, but I do want to defend you briefly.
I don't know what my colleagues believe, but I do have a pretty good sense of what the effects are of creating ambiguity, of lacking clarity and conviction around the Russian attack on the election of 2016.
In response to your comment, the ranking member offered up a report, which varies in material respects from the report that was created by the 17 agencies of the intelligence community. A day does not go by in which Ranking Member Nunes does not speak of the Russia hoax, and this is an area in which context is pretty important.
Dr. Hill, let me read you a comment by another senior official. Why did Democratic National Committee turn down the DHS offer to protect against hacks? It's all a big Dem HOAX -- all caps -- why did the DNS refuse to turn over its server to the FBI? It's all a big Dem scam.
Dr. Hill, do you know who said those things?
HILL: I don't.
HIMES: That's the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. So you might be forgiven for your (ph)...
HILL: I might have missed that, yeah.
HIMES: ... for -- yeah, you didn't miss much. But my point is -- and tell me if you agree or disagree -- ambiguity, a failure to name and shame the Russians for the attack in 2016, that is not in the service of our national security, is it?
HILL: It's not, no.
HIMES: It's not. So let's -- let's turn to Ukraine. Dr. Hill, have you seen a -- you characterized the idea that Ukraine interfered in the election as a fictional narrative. Have you seen any evidence at all that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 Election? HILL: Well I brought with me two exhibits that I was pointed to in fact by our colleagues during deposition that I gave on October 14th and actually I'm quite grateful that they pointed me in this direction. I was presented during my deposition with two articles or at least two pieces of information. One was an oped that the Ukrainian Ambassador Charlie wrote in 2016 in "The Hill" so this is during the Presidential Campaign when President Trump was then the nominee for the Republican Party.
This is Ambassador Charlie who was then still the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States being critical of President Trump who was then the nominee for the Republican Party for making comments about Ukraine, Crimea and Russia.
HIMES: May I interrupt you there? Let be very specific about what those comments were. The President when he was a candidate said "the people of Crimea from what I've heard would rather be with Russia than where they were" so Ambassador Charlie is responding to that in that article, correct?
HILL: That's correct. And he just uses this as a peg. Because to be honest the whole article is actually about Ukraine. And this is classic standard for anyone who wants to write an oped. I've written plenty of them myself. You pick a peg by -
HILL: -- something that you or somebody else might have said and then you proceed to say what you want to say.
HIMES: Right, so here it is.
HILL: This is what Ambassador Charlie does, is he talks about Ukraine's position vis-a-vis Russia and Russian aggression against Ukraine.
HIMES: Yes, and let me just read because it's worth people hearing what this sever attack on President, Candidate Trump who has suggested that the Crimeans would rather be with Russia. Ambassador Charlie writes even if Trump's comments are only speculative and do not really reflect a future foreign policy they call for appeasement of an aggressor and support the violation of a sovereign countries territorial integrity and anothers breach of international law. Dundundun. That's the attack on Candidate Trump.
HILL: (inaudible) correct.
HIMES: Does that sound like election interference to you?
HILL: Well, I would say that it's probably not the most advisable thing to do for an Ambassador because you never know who is going to win and I think that the second piece that presented to me at great length and I want to thank Mr. Custer for making me go back and read it again. Because when you asked me the questions about it I did remember the piece Kenneth Vogel is a very well known and as you've pointed out extremely good journalist. And I remembered reading this back in the day in January 2017. But it had been a long time between then and October.
And you gave me a copy and I went back and read it again because I think it actually is an extraordinarily important it gets to this issue here. Mr. Vogel points out that the Ukrainian Government again they wouldn't have done very well at the bookies picking up the issue I pointed out at the beginning of today. They bet on the wrong horse. They bet on Hillary Clinton winning the election. And so they were trying to curry (ph) favor with the Clinton Campaign, it's quite evident here. And he relates to some extent individuals and some Ukrainian Officials, like Mr. Avakov the Interior Minister and a number of other people that he names here and that have been named at various points.
And talks about how they were trying to collect information as Ranking Member Nunes said on Mr. Manafort and on other people as well. However I do want to point out that crux (ph) of the article here by Mr. Vogel is he said there was little evidence of a top down effort by Ukraine. And he makes a distinction between the Russian effort that personally directed by Russian President Putin and involved the countries Military and Foreign Intelligence Services. Now I don't think that those two things are exactly the same.
I also mentioned in my deposition of October 14th that in fact many officials from many countries including Ukraine bet on the wrong horse. They believe that Secretary Clinton, former Senator Clinton, former First Lady Clinton was going to win. And many said some pretty disparaging and hurtful thing about President Trump. But I can't blame him for feeling aggrieved about them. And when we were setting up Head of State visits, remember I have a portfolio of 50 plus countries plus NATO and the European Union, we thought it prudent to collect as much as possible about comments that people might have said about the President during the campaign when he was either one of the candidates to be the nominee for the Republican party or when he was actually the candidate running against Hillary Clinton. And I'm sorry to say that awful lot and perhaps I shouldn't name them here because it will have conscience an awful lot of Senior Officials in many Goverance (ph) including our Allied Governments said some pretty hurtful things about The President.
And I would also personally take offense at some the things that were said if I were The President. Now the difference here however is that that hasn't had any major impact on his feelings towards those countries. Not that I have seen. But I've heard The President say, and he said it in public so I'm not revealing any kind of executive privilege here that Ukraine tried to take me down. What (ph) I have seen is this ill advised Ukrainian Officials, Ambassador Charlie been removed as being the Ambassador from here. Made some pretty unpleasant statements and above all some ill advised opeds. But I could list a whole host of Ambassadors from allied countries who tweeted out, who had public comments about The President as well. And it did not affect security assistance having meetings with them. If it would there been a lot of people he wouldn't have met with.
HIMES: Thank you, Dr. Hill. Mr. Chairman, I seek unanimous consent to add to the record a political article of December 1, 2016 entitled "Russia accuses Ukraine of Sabotaging Trump". It outlines Russian Senior Officials making allegations that there was Ukrainian interference in the 2016 Election.
SCHIFF: Without objection. Mr. Conaway.
CONAWAY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield to Mr. Ratcliffe, five minutes.
RATCLIFFE: Thank the gentleman for yielding. I want to pick up where my colleague across the aisle, Congressman Himes, left off earlier. Respectfully, Dr. Hill, he was not defending you he was defending himself and Democrats. I want to make sure the record is very clear, Ranking Member Nunes was correct. He correctly noted in his opening that Republicans not Democrats on this committee were the first ones to raise the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 Election. The disagreement wasn't about Russian meddling the disagreement was about whether or not President Trump conspired with Russia, a false allegation, peddled by the Democrats generally and specifically by some Democrats on this committee.
With that, Mr. Holmes I want to turn to you in the part of the conversation your testimony where you said you heard President Trump say is he going to do the investigation and Ambassador Sondland said he's going to it, he'll do anything you ask him to. Is that right?
HOLMES: Yes, sir.
RATCLIFFE: What did President Trump say next?
HOLMES: He said, good, what about Sweden.
RATCLIFFE: He said what?
HOLMES: Sir, I need to look at back where we are in middle of the conversation here.
Where are we from the testimony?
This is -- exactly. So then they turned to the Sweden conversation.
RATCLIFFE: What did President Trump say next?
HOLMES: He said, good what about Sweden?
RATCLIFFE: Good, what about Sweden? Good, what about Sweden? Why isn't that in the -- in your statement?
HOLMES: Sir, it's not a word for word -- every single word in the conversation.
RATCLIFFE: But it's to most important part of the conversation.
HOLMES: We'll then they turned to Sweden, they turned to the other topic.
RATCLIFFE: Respectfully Mr. Holmes, this impeachment inquiry is based on the call the day before where President Trump as part of a bribery scheme -- as part of an extortion scheme -- as part of a quid pro quo according to the Democrats demanded investigations in exchange for either military aid or a White House meeting and the next day, you were witness to President Trump receiving word that the bribery scheme was successful. The extortion scheme was successful.
And his response -- his response was, good, what about Sweden?
HOLMES: Yes sir. The Ukraine portion of that conversation was extremely brief.
RATCLIFFE: What was the first thing the President said on the call?
HOLMES: He -- the -- this was --
RATCLIFFE: -- you stated here you had a (ph) clear recollection of this conversation.
HOLMES: Yes sir.
SCHIFF: Mr. Ratcliffe, please allow Mr. Holmes to answer.
HOLMES: Yes sir. Sondland greeted the President.
HOLMES: He said I am in -- he said Mr. -- he said hello Mr. President in Ukraine -- I'm in Kyiv and the President correct -- I think said (ph) are you in Ukraine.
RATCLIFFE: You think he said I think you're Ukraine -- he said what?
HOLMES: He said are in -- is Kyiv Ukraine?
RATCLIFFE: What did you hear President Trump say about A$AP Rocky?
HOLMES: I did not hear President Trumps side of the conversion about A$AP Rocky.
RATCLIFFE: You said how did we go from the conversation was very loud and his voice was recognizable to as you say here when the conversation shifted, I could only hear Ambassador Sondland's side of the conversation.
HOLMES: Yes sir, as I have testified. The initial part of the call Ambassador Sondland -- sort of when the President came on the call, he sort of winced and held the phone away from his ear for the initial portion of the call and then at some point in the call he stopped doing that, and I don't know why, I don't know if he turned the volume down, I don't know if the President spoke much more quietly, I don't if he got used to the volume, I don't know what changed -- RATCLIFFE: What -- what did change, it's important -- this was memorable.
HOLMES: I don't know sir, it was -- Ambassador Sondland stopped moving the phone away from his ear, that's what --
RATCLIFFE: That's what it was?
RATCLIFFE: OK. How did the conversation end?
[14:15:00] HOLMES: I only heard Ambassador Sondland's side of the conversation sir, and at the end of the conversation, he said -- he said -- he was giving the President advice on how to deal with A$AP Rocky situation and he said -- you know you should've -- they should've released him on your word and you can tell the Kardashians you tried.
RATCLIFFE: OK, so to be clear when President Trump received the word that President Zelensky had agreed to the investigations he said good, what about Sweden.
RATCLIFFE: When exactly did Gordon Sondland ask President Zelensky about the investigations?
HOLMES: I'm sorry sir?
RATCLIFFE: When did he ask about the investigations?
HOLMES: When did Gordon Sondland ask Zelensky about the investigations?
HOLMES: Uh -- are you asking (ph) in which -- in which meeting did he raise the investigations?
RATCLIFFE: We'll it was raised the day before on a call, and the next day Gordon Sondland said the answer to that he's going to do the investigation, so when did he ask about the investigations?
HOLMES: It's my assumption is he did in the closed door meeting with Yermak.
RATCLIFFE: Well -- I want to --
SCHIFF: Time on the gentleman has expired.
RATCLIFFE: I appreciate that, but I want to make sure the records clear that yesterday Ambassador Sondland testified that --
RATCLIFFE: -- the topic of conversations did not come up on that day. I yield back.
SCHIFF: The time of the (ph) gentleman has expired. Ms. Sewell you're recognized.
SEWELL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to thank both of witnesses for being here today. I'd like to turn our discussion to the campaign to remove career diplomat Ambassador Yovanovitch. Both of you in your various capacities had to work with her and both of you witness what I would call a smear campaign. I wanted to know your thoughts, Dr. Hill, what was your view of Ambassador Yovanovitch experience and quality of her work in the Ukraine and what -- and do you consider it to be a smear campaign?
HILL: I have the highest regard for Ambassador Yovanovitch both in terms of her integrity and the high standards of work that she was carrying out as ambassador in Ukraine and across her whole career. I do believe that there was a smear campaign and I just want to say again for the record that I think it was unnecessary. If there was a decision to have a political ambassador put in place in Ukraine, that would be perfectly acceptable and it's exactly the right of the President to be able to do that.
I just did not see why it was necessary to malign Ambassador Yovanovitch (ph) to such an extent.
SEWELL: Mr. Holmes would you agree with that and can you talk about the character integrity and performance of professor -- Ambassador Yovanovitch, both in Ukraine.
HOLMES: Yes ma'am. She was extremely professional, respected in Ukraine by Ukrainians, I think also by visiting American senior officials, including members of this committee and of Congress who came to visit. She is extremely dedicated, hard working.
SEWELL: Did you see it as smear campaign as well?
HOLMES: I did, yes.
SEWELL: And what the effect that it had on the morale of other professionals that you worked with in the Ukraine?
HOLMES: It was a confusing time as I've said before. The President has the right to remove an ambassador for any or no reason at all. It was not clear as to why this was happening, or why people weren't standing up for her.
SEWELL: I'd like to now turn, Dr. Hill, to your boss. Your boss was Ambassador Bolton, right?
HILL: That's correct, yes.
SEWELL: Did you boss -- Dr -- I mean Ambassador tell you that Giuliani was "a hand grenade"?
HILL: He did yes.
SEWELL: What do you think he mean by his characterization of Giuliani as a hand grenade?
HILL: What he meant by this was pretty clear to me in the context of all of the statements that Mr. Giuliani was making publically about the investigations that he was promoting, that the storyline he was promoting, the narrative of -- he was promoting this content backfired (ph) -- I think it has backfired.
SEWELL: was that narrative also inclusive of falsehoods about Ambassador Yovanovitch?
HILL: At the particular juncture that Ambassador Bolton made that comment, absolutely, because that was in the context of my discussions with him about what was happening to Ambassador Yovanovitch.
SEWELL: I -- was particularly struck by your testimony, Dr. Hill, about receiving hateful calls and being accused being a source mole (ph) in the White House. Are you a Never Trumper or have you been true to your profession and remained nonpartisan?
HILL: I honestly don't know what the definition of a Never Trumper is, as I think many of my colleagues are feeling the same way that is a puzzling term to be applied to career or nonpartisan officials. And I chose to come into the administration. I could easily have said no when I was approached --
SEWELL: Yes but you didn't sign up to have hateful calls and the like.
HILL: I guess unfortunately where we are today in America that's coming with the territory. They're (ph) continuing honestly, I mean we are constantly having to block twitter posts of my name and address on the internet -- we've been doing this over the last couple of days --
HILL: And -- and as I said in my deposition, this could happen to any single person in this room, be it members of the press, be it member of Congress, and be it the staff. And I think we have to find ways of combating this, and again, this gets back sadly to things that our adversaries can also exploit.
SEWELL: Exactly. I think you would agree with me that this shouldn't become the new normal. Would you agree?
HILL: It should not.
SEWELL: I also think that this kind of behavior, instead of keeping you down, would make you undeterred. Are you -- are you more determined to continue to do your work and to do it professionally.
HILL: I am, and I think that all of my (ph) colleagues are as well, because just as you've said, we can't let this stand. And I don't think anyone here wants to let this stand. I actually don't believe that this is a partisan issue. I don't think anybody wants to come under personal attack.
SEWELL: Yes, I unfortunately think that this has become the new norm and we're being led by the very top of the food chain, which is our president, which is unfortunate. I'm especially disheartened by his treatment of women, and I think that the fact of the matter is that there's a long line of strong, talented women who have been part -- smeared and victimized by this president, and we can either choose to ignore it or do something about it.
And frankly I think that whether you voted for him, whether you supported him or not, that doing so is wrong. You can simply just remove someone. You don't have to smear them.
Thank you, and I yield back my time.
SCHIFF: Mr. Turner?
TURNER: Right, I just want to echo that sentiment and certainly lament the attacks that have been levied against our colleague, Elise Stefanik, on this panel, which have been vile and -- and hateful.
For those of you keeping score at home, the effort to accuse our president of coercion, extortion, or bribery with these witnesses as we come to the closing session of this, basically break down as follows: we have Kent and Ambassador Taylor, who spoke of hearsay, their hearsay of these matters that they said that they had heard, were all statements that they'd heard from others who have also testified in front of us. So there's no one that's missing, there's no one out there. Kent and Taylor basically said that they'd heard it from Morrison and Sondland; Morrison indicated he'd heard it from Sondland, Sondland testified yesterday he'd heard it from no one on the planet.
Vindman and Morrison both have direct testimony of the phone call with the president of the United States. Beyond that, they only had contact with Sondland, and again, Sondland indicated he had contact with no one on the planet.
Volker testified that he did have direct contact, both with the Ukrainians and with the President of the United States and indicated that the President of the United States did not condition either a phone call, a meeting, or aid upon Ukraine undertaking investigations and also testified that the Ukrainians did not believe that either.
We also have the direct statements from the President of Ukraine and the Foreign Minister that they did not feel any pressure to undertake investigations, and we also have the evidence that we're all very much aware of, which is they did not undertake any investigations.
We also have Yovanovitch and Dr. Hill -- Yovanovitch obviously left before the time period, Dr. Hill, we appreciate your -- your being with us today, and Mr. Holmes.
Dr. Hill, you have provided me probably the greatest piece of -- of -- of evidence that's before us to illustrate the problem with hearsay. So you said, based on questions and statements, I have heard some of you on this committee -- that'd be us -- appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country. And perhaps somehow for some reason it was Ukraine.
So this is the -- it was held up by Devin Nunes, is the report on Russian active measures that was voted on by all of us. It begins with this sentence: in 2015, Russia began engaging in a covert influence campaign aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Every one of us -- a little small, like, you know, effort on your part, Dr. Hill, and you would have known that what you just said was not true; what you had heard.
But you felt the need to put it in your eight-page statement before you went on to tell us a bunch of other things that you heard about other people, no matter how convinced you were of, also which were not necessarily true. One of which was that you said that Ambassador Sondland met with Giuliani. Actually, Ambassador Sondland testified here that he had not as ambassador met with Giuliani. He'd briefly met him in his lifetime by shaking his hand, and Giuliani issued a statement that they had never met either.
This is the problem with -- no matter how convinced we are, Dr. Hill, no matter how much we believe we know that what we've heard is true, it is still just what we've heard.
But so far in this -- in this hearings, in these series of hearings, the only thing that we have is Volker saying I spoke to the president and I've spoke to the Ukrainians, neither of which believe that aid was -- was conditioned, neither of which believed that the president was requiring it, and Ambassador Sondland, which said no one on the planet told him that that was the case.
[14:25:00] That's the sole evidence. Now, I've got to tell you, the one thing that's interesting is -- is -- Ambassador Sondland did say is his belief that a meeting with the president was conditioned upon investigations. Ambassador Volker, who I think is a man of very significant integrity, said that that was not the case.
Now even if Ambassador Sondland is correct that somebody -- and -- and Dr. Hill, you testified -- and again, it's hearsay, you don't know -- that supposedly Mulvaney told him that, because he didn't testify to that -- but let's say somebody beside the president told him that, I -- you guys want to be the laughingstock of history to impeach a President of the United States because he didn't take a meeting? Oh please, dear God. Please undertake that.
Now Mr. Holmes, I -- I got to tell you, you stated (inaudible)...
SCHIFF (ph): Sir, is there -- is there a question for Dr. Hill?
TURNER: Mr. Holmes... (LAUGHTER)
TURNER: ...in your testimony, you said that Sondland said he loves your ass, and also said he'll do anything that you want.
HOLMES (ph): Yes.
TURNER: Mr. Holmes, that information had nothing whatsoever to do with the subject matter of any of these hearings. It was -- it was anecdotal, it was extraneous, your statements that your interests are protecting Ukraine are very dubious when you embarrass President Zelensky by making those statements you didn't have to make. Who cares that Ambassador Sondland said that?
And you know, you didn't embarrass Ambassador Sondland, you embarrassed Zelensky, because you know he got asked this question in his own country and people are hearing that statement as if it's true...
SCHIFF: The time of the gentleman has expired...
TURNER: ...and it's -- it's totally dubious if you did -- for you to do that to him (ph).
SCHIFF: Mr. Carson, you are recognized.
TURNER: I yield back.
(UNKNOWN): ...you get to answer (ph).
CARSON: Thank you, Chairman. Thank you both for your service. Dr. Hill, why don't you talk a little more in depth about Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's role in the events under investigation. You testified, Ma'am, that Mr. Mulvaney and Ambassador Sondland were both involved with a letter President Trump sent to the Ukrainian President on May the 29th congratulating him on his inauguration. Do you recall that, Ma'am?
HILL: I did, yes.
CARSON: And towards the end of that letter, President Trump closed with, quote, I would like to invite you to meet me at the White House in Washington D.C. as soon as we can find a mutually convenient time, end quote.
Dr. Hill, was this congratulatory letter drafted through the normal procedures at the NSC -- that the NSC uses to send letters to foreign heads of state?
HILL: The first part of it was, except the last paragraph.
CARSON: You also testified that Ambassador Sondland told you that he had dictated that line to the president, and that Mr. Mulvaney -- he told Mr. Mulvaney to add that to the letter. Is that correct, Ma'am? HILL: That's correct.
CARSON: You said that you were nervous about that. Why were you nervous, Dr. Hill?
HILL: Because at this juncture, it had become quite apparent that the president wasn't very keen on having a meeting with Mr. Zelensky, for all the reasons that we've been trying to lay out today. And we were -- once one puts in a letter like that, you raise the expectation of a letter -- of an invitation coming shortly.
CARSON: Dr. Hill, you also testified, ma'am, that Ambassador Sondland was frequently meeting with Mr. Mulvaney. Mr. Giuliani's campaign of lies ultimately led to Ambassador Yovanovitch being recalled from her post in April 2019. You've also testified, ma'am, that her removal was pretty dispiriting, and a turning point for you. Can you explain to us why, ma'am?
HILL: Well, again, as we've all made clear, Ambassador Yovanovitch -- and you saw for yourselves in her deposition -- is a person of great integrity. She is one of our finest Foreign Service officers, career Foreign Service officers.
And this (ph) had been a decision to remove her, to replace her with a political appointee. Again, that would -- that was perfectly within the rights of the president. Sometimes it's highly advisable, in fact, to emphasize to a country just exactly how close the relationship is likely to be, to have an appointee who is close to the president, if it's an important relationship.
But what was dispiriting was all of the accusations that were being fired at Ambassador Yovanovitch, leading her to be tweeted, including by members of the president's family. We all firmly believed that Mr. Giuliani -- and others including the -- people who were recently indicted, the Ukrainian-American gentleman -- had for some reason decided that Ambassador Yovanovitch was some kind of personal problem for them. They -- and that they had then decided to engage in just the kinds of things we've been discussing about, and frankly she was an easy target, as a woman.
And I'm very sorry to hear about what's happened to Congressman Stefanik. And I think that this just illustrates the point and the problem that we're dealing with here today.
[14:30:00] CARSON: Certainly. I was also struck by your testimony, that you were also the target of false accusations during your time in the Trump administration. You testified, ma'am, about receiving hateful calls and then being accused of being, quote, "a mole in the White House." You testified about death threats and calls at your home. Is that right?
HILL: That's correct. That was in 2017.
CARSON: well, I'm sorry you've had to go through all of this, ma'am. You don't strike me as a woman who is easily deterred. You're not easily deterred, are you, Dr. Hill? HILL: I'm not, no.
CARSON: Thank you both for your service.
I yield back, Chairman.
HILL: Thank you, sir.
SCHIFF: I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Just another fact-check -- and again, my caution to both of you that representations about what prior witnesses said or what you have even said may not be consistent with the facts.
This was from Ambassador Sondland's opening statement. "After the Zelensky meeting, I also met with Zelensky's senior aide, Andrey Yermak. I don't recall the specifics of our conversation, but I believe the issue of investigations was probably a part of the -- that agenda or meeting."
I now recognize Dr. Wenstrup.
WENSTRUP: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you both for being here. You know, in 1998, I voluntarily joined the United States Army Reserves because I saw our country under attack, time and time again. Bill Clinton was the president. I didn't vote for Bill Clinton, but he was my commander in chief. It didn't matter that I didn't vote for him.
I was grateful to live in a country that gets to legitimately elect our leaders. And I've been to places where people don't get to, and it's not pretty. And I respect our system, and I accept the results that are determined by the American people.
I deployed to Iraq, 2005, 2006 as an Army surgeon with soldiers from many backgrounds. The most important thing was we were all Americans, that was first and foremost.
In our mission, we treated our troops, we treated the enemy, winning over the hearts and minds of people that never knew us because of their dictator, Saddam Hussein, who told them that we were responsible for all their problems, and that was his narrative.
And speaking of narratives, Dr. Hill, I'm sorry, I have to say this. You said, based on statements you've heard, that some on this committee believe Russia did not conduct a campaign against our country, is false. That's Mr. Schiff's narrative, that's where you've heard it. We did a whole report on it. And we agree that Russia has done this since the Soviet Union, and they've actually gotten better at it. That's a problem.
But at the same time, certain Ukrainians did work against Candidate Trump, some with the DNC. And if that's debunked, why is it Mr. Schiff has denied DNC operative Alexandra Chalupa from testifying to come forward and debunk it? I ask America, was it good for the country for the DNC and the Clinton campaign to pay Christopher Steele to dig up fake dirt, with other Foreign Service sources, on their political rival? Was it good for America to claim having evidence of the president colluding with Russians when he did not, costing the taxpayer millions and being debunked by special counsel? I'd say the false narrative got caught.
Was it good for the country for Americans and foreigners alike to attempt to entrap members of the United States presidential campaign, specifically the Trump campaign? Sadly, I've come to believe, through all this, that some in power do think it's good. They think it's OK. And now we're here in an impeachment proceeding, certainly a right that Congress has. And apparently, even with very partisan rules.
But I'm curious, this impeachment inquiry was announced by the speaker before the whistleblower complaint was even out. I'm curious how -- why the lawyer for the whistleblower announced that the coup to impeach the president, the -- he announced that right after Trump won. That's pretty damning.
I know it hurts after losing an election. Especially as Americans, we usually get over it. And I imagine it would hurt even more if you were promised a position in the next administration, and lost, and your hopes and your dreams are dashed.
You know, I've seen hatred for political reasons. Specifically on June 14, 2017, at a ballfield in Virginia. And I've seen hatred and more, and I know that hatred blinds people. I've been in war, and I've studied war. And coups create division. And it's time for this phase of the publicly announced and proclaimed Democrat coup to end.
Thank you for your service, thanks for being here.
And I yield back.
HILL: Could I actually say something? Because we've had three...
SCHIFF: Doctor, I was going to -- I was going to ask you if you'd like to respond there, but...
WENSTRUP: No (ph), no (ph). I yield back...
WENSTRUP (?): ... ask (ph) the question.
SCHIFF: The gentleman will suspend.
Dr. Hill, you may respond.
WENSTRUP: (inaudible) statement.
HILL: No, I think that what Dr. Wenstrup said was very powerful, about the importance of overcoming hatred, and certainly partisan division. And it's unfortunate that Congressman Turner and Ratcliffe have both left as well. Because I think all of us who came here under a legal obligation, also felt we had a moral obligation to do so. We came as fact witnesses.
When I was referring to questions that I'd heard, it was in the context of the deposition that I gave on October 14th, because I was very worried about the turn in which some of the questions were taking.
And I understand that the point is being made about individuals, as you've just said, Dr. Wenstrup, and that these articles lay out taking different (ph) positions in our elections.
I don't believe that there should be any interference of any kind in our election. I think it was unfair for people to already call and to make attacks also on candidate Trump and on President Trump.
And I know that this has put a huge cloud over this presidency and also over our whole democratic system. That's actually why, as a non- partisan person and as an expert on Russia and an expert on Vladimir Putin and on the Russian Security Services, I wanted to come in to serve the country, to try to see if I could help.
I heard President Trump say that he wanted to improve the relations with Russia. I believe we have to. We can't be in this unending confrontation with Russia, we have to find a way to stabilize our relationship and to professionalize our relationship, as well as to stop them from doing what they did in 2016 again in 2020.
This is really the crux of the issue that I and others are trying to put across and I think that you've put across very eloquently. The other matter's related to this inquiry. We're here just to provide what we know and what we've heard.
I understand that for many members, this may be hearsay, I've talked about things I've heard with my own ears. I understand that Ambassador Sondland has said a lot of things. I have told you what he told me and what others told me.
A lot of other people have said things to me again as well and also to Mr. Holmes and we're here to relate to you what we heard, what we saw and what we did, and to be of some help to all of you in really making a very momentous decision here. We are not the people who make that decision.
And I do again want to underscore what you've said here, Dr. Wenstrup. It was very eloquent and very moving about your service and trying to bring us all together again as Americans. We need to be together again in 2020 so the American people can make a choice about the future and about - make their vote in a presidential election without any fear that this is being interfered in by any - from any corridor (ph) whatsoever.
So I just want to thank you for making what I think was also a very elegant and eloquent and heartfelt defense.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Dr. Hill. Ms. Speier?
SPEIER: Mr. Chairman, thank you, and Dr. Hill, Mr. Holmes, thank you both for being fact witnesses. We are here as fact finders and we appreciate very much your presentations. Dr. Hill, I want to verify this story. I understand that when you were 11 years old, there was a schoolboy who set your pigtails on fire and you were taking a test, you turned around and with your hands snuffed out the fire and then proceeded to finish your test. Is that a true story?
HILL: That is a true story. I was a bit surprised to see that pop up today. It's one of the stories I occasionally tell cause it had some very unfortunate consequences afterwards. My mother gave me a bowl haircut.
So for the - the school photograph later in that week, I look like Richard III, as if I'm going to be in a permanent ...
SPEIER: Well I think it underscores the fact that you speak truth, that you are steely and I truly respect that. Let me move to your testimony and your deposition. You had indicated you were deeply troubled by Ambassador Yovanovitch's - the attacks on her and you underscored again today that all ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the President.
And certainly in the case of Ambassador Yovanovitch, he could have just asked her to come home. But that didn't happen. In fact, there was a systematic character assassination that went on. It went on from 2018, if I'm not mistaken.
[14:40:00] But you say "and the most obvious explanation at this point, it has to be said, seemed to be business dealings of individuals who wanted to improve their investment positions inside of Ukraine itself." You were then asked who do you understand was responsible for her removal and you said "I understand this to be the result of the campaign that Mr. Giuliani had set in motion in conjunction with people who were writing articles and, you know, publications that I would have expected better of, and also, you know, just the constant drumbeat of these accusations that he was making on the television."
So Rudy Giuliani was playing fast and furious in Ukraine, it would appear. Is that correct?
HILL: That's correct.
SPEIER: And he had no official tasking within the administration. Is that correct? HILL: Not that I had been told of.
SPEIER: But he frequently met with Ukrainian officials to request that they open an investigation.
HILL: So I was - I to understand, yes.
SPEIER: You testified that Mr. Giuliani's involvement was quote "a massive complication in terms of our engagement with Ukraine."
HILL: That's correct.
SPEIER: Would you like to explain that?
HILL: Well I think I already laid that out in a earlier part of response to some of the questions. We were actually conducting which - you know, for a lot of the American people might seem to be a rather boring standard bilateral policy toward Ukraine - pushing them on issues of reform in the energy sector and more broadly we were concerned obviously about corruption in Ukraine. We were trying to help Ukraine regain its sovereignty after the attacks by Russia.
SPEIER: So how did Mr. Giuliani's involvement affect you?
HILL: Well we were - we basically had worked out of a - a course of two years in - in conjunction - close conjunction with the embassy in Kiev an interagency agreed action plan. And these are things that in fact Colonel Vindman and others were working on, basically moving forward on the various issues that were on the list of items.
Clearly Rudy Giuliani and other people didn't care at all about this ...
SPEIER: All right.
HILL: ... Ambassador Sondland wasn't particularly interested in it, either - it's quite boring, it wouldn't make for good copy in the press and it's the kind of thing that everybody in a routine moves forward on.
SPEIER: Mr. Holmes, you talked about the extraordinary power that Russia tries to assert against Ukraine. So since President Zelensky never got his White House meeting, doesn't that make Ukraine look weak and doesn't that benefit Russia?
HOLMES: Absolutely it does.
SPEIER: All right. So promoting Putin's false claim of Ukraine intervention into the U.S. election also benefits Russia, doesn't it?
HOLMES: It does.
SPEIER: So when President Trump meets privately with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit, who does that benefit?
HOLMES: Well it doesn't help Ukraine. SPEIER: It doesn't help Ukraine. And by President Trump calling Ukraine corrupt and not North Korea, for instance, does that accrue to Russia's benefit?
HOLMES: Again, it doesn't help Ukraine.
SPEIER: All right. I thank you and Mr. Chairman I'll yield the rest of my time to you.
SCHIFF: You're yielding me three seconds.
Not even I can make use of three seconds. Mr. Stewart?
STEWART: Thank you. Dr. Hill, Mr. Holmes, thank you for being here. I actually have no questions for you that haven't already been asked or made any points that haven't already been made. And I guess I'll just conclude by something I've said before.
This impeach-a-palooza tour finally comes to an end. I mean, a year of resistance - two and a half years of these absurd accusations against the President of Russian collusion. We've gone from quid pro quo to bribery to extortion, seven weeks of hearings, 16 secret closed door sessions, 12 public hearings now of which you are the last, hundreds of hours of testimony. And I really think that for those who hate The President they haven't changed their minds but there's a lot of Americans who look at this and they think is that it, really. You're going to impeach and remove a President for this. Now like I said if you don't like The President you've already come to that conclusion. Many people wanted this three years ago.
But for a lot of Americans they really look at that and they can see this. No evidence, zero evidence of any bribery, zero evidence of extortion, zero evidence first hand of any quid pro quo. And yet impeachment is almost inevitable. And why because the leadership of this committee has been unfair and dishonest. And I know we hear these crocodile tears from some of my colleagues who are hear broken because they finally have to impeach this President and we know that's absurd there's not heartbroken, there's no, there's no prayful tears over this. They're giddy over this.
And there's not a person in the country who doesn't know that. Everyone knows what they're going to do next, they're going to impeach The President and they're going to send it on to the Senate. But that is the good news. That's good news, you know we'll all been to a concert, you've got the warm up band and then you've got the main act. And what we've seen here is a warm up band. This is like the Sioux City Crooners, this is a band that no one's ever heard of. But the warm-up band is over and now we're going to go on to the main event and that's in US Senate. And in the US Senate there won't be any secret testimony. There's not going to be dishonest leadership or a Chairman who refuses to let us ask appropriate questions or deny a defense. Where in the world, where in the country do you have a trial where the Prosecution presents her case and the defense isn't able to.
So we'll finally be able to get to the truth. And so I'm talking now (ph) to my colleagues in the Senate. These are some of the witnesses that you need to call and these are some of the questions that you need to ask. First you have to hear from the whistleblower. Now they can choose to do that in close session if they want to, I leave that up to them. But you can't initiate an impeachment of The President of The United States and not have to answer some questions. Who did he get his information from? Did he have the classification and clearances tot get that information? What's his relationship with Vice President Biden? Who has he shared that information with including some members of the committee here. I think our own Chairman needs to be called.
What interactions did he or his staff have with the whistleblower? Did they help to coordinate or in any way facilitate the complaint? Did they coordinate and facilitate him (ph) counsel? What about Hunter Biden? How did he get his job? How did he, what did he do to earn his salary? And here's the key to this, look if he goes there and makes money knock yourself out I don't care. But I want to know did he have officials with or conversations with Government Officials and was government policy changed at a particularly high level because some of those? Devon Archer former Board Member from Burisma, Alexandra Chalupa former DNC Official who admitted she provided anti-Trump information to the DNC and to Hillary Clinton. Nellie Ohr from Fusion GPS who helped to create the ridiculous steel dossier.
I'd like to remind us what I said yesterday. The American people expect a lot in Politics, they understand the tussle, the fight, the debate but they also expect basic fairness. And these precedings have been anything but fair. The Senate has an opportunity to fix that. I am confident they will. And I look forward to them completing the job that we could have done here. And with that, I will yield back.
SCHIFF: Mr. Quigley.
QUIGLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, both for being here. Dr. Hill when we last left July 10th, I believe Ambassador Bolton said to you, you go and tell Eisenberg that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooling up on this. And you go tell them what you heard and what I've said. That's correct, is that right?
HILL: That's correct, sir, yes.
QUIGLEY: And John Eisenberg he's the Chief Lawyer for the National Security Counsel, correct?
HILL: He is, yes.
QUIGLEY: And you went to see him?
HILL: I did go to see him.
QUIGLEY: And what did you say to him that day? HILL: I basically gave him the same summary that I've given to you on the 10th of July.
QUIGLEY: Of what took place?
HILL: Of what took place, correct. Including maybe some of the details that shared with you as well, the sequencing and what transpired as I was walking in.
QUIGLEY: Now did you have one or two meeting with him about that?
HILL: He did not have a great deal of time on the 10th and I gave him the quick summary and we agreed that we would meet again on the 11th, on July 11th the next day. And I also wanted to bring in with me my colleague, Wells Griffith our Senior Director for Energy who had been setting with me on the sofa for the first portion of the meeting. And I also suggested that he speak to Colonel Vindman separately as well because Colonel Vindman was in the Ward (ph) Room when I arrived and he obviously been engaged in some discussion before I got there. Because it was as I got into the room they were clearly in the course (ph), sorry with the microphone, clearly in the course (ph) of conversation. And I thought it was important for John Eisenberg to hear from Colonel Vindman, himself, what his recollections of the meeting were.
QUIGLEY: You raised the concerns that Ambassador Bolton had raised to you to Mr. Eisenberg?
HILL: I certainly did. The first thing I related to him was exactly and precisely what Ambassador Bolton had asked me too.
QUIGLEY: In the course of those two meetings, which was Mr. Eisenberg's response?
[14:50:00] HILL: Mr. Eisenberg took it all very seriously. He said for example that Colonel Vindman should feel free, he said this to me, in future to go and bring any concerns to him about these meetings. Similarly myself and any others if there was any subsequent follow up in terms of these issues being raised again with any of the parties in the future.
QUIGLEY: He didn't say anything in response about how he took that meeting or how he would describe it? Or if he had any, did he raise any concerns about what you told him that took place?
HILL: No, he did not. He listened very carefully to all of the information that we imparted.
QUIGLEY: Back to that July 10th meeting, the second meeting that it's the Ward (ph) Room, correct?
HILL: That's correct.
QUIGLEY: Now, whose in the meeting besides yourself, the two Ukrainians? HILL: Mr. Donalque (ph), Mr. Yermack, Mr. Yermack's aid, Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, and then a couple people I think were from the State Department. I wondered for awhile if one of Secretary Perry's group had been there too.
QUIGLEY: But -
HILL: I honestly can not remember.
QUIGLEY: But Ambassador Volker was there during that entire?
HILL: He was there but he didn't actually speak very much during that meeting. And I heard his deposition and I read his deposition where he didn't really recall that encounter. Again he didn't really speak, Ambassador Sondland was doing most of the speaking.
QUIGLEY: And as you, I think you described it as you came in Ambassador Sondland was talking about how he had an agreement with Chief of Staff Mulvaney for a meeting with the Ukrainians if they were going forward with the investigations. While this was taking place and afterwards, how were the Ukrainians reacting to what was being said?
HILL: Well at the time, Mr. Yermack, was quite impassive. I said that he had an aid with him and his aid was sitting next to him in the original meeting with Ambassador Bolton and was from time to time, actually on this side, whispering to him. So I wasn't sure myself, because I had not met Mr. Yermack before, about how good his English was. So I wasn't sure, perhaps Mr. Holmes might be able to reflect on that, as to whether he was, you know, having some points of clarification from the aides.
QUIGLEY: He understood what was happening.
HILL: Yes, so I wasn't entirely sure if he was following all of the back-and-forth. Mr. Danyluk, who I know very well, and speaks very good English, looked quite alarmed. I think he was more alarmed at the fact that there was this back-and-forth between Ambassador Sondland and Colonel Vindman, then with me about the meeting.
Clearly they very much wanted to have this meeting, and here are some U.S. officials arguing about the meeting in front of him. And that was obviously also very uncomfortable for him.
QUIGLEY: Did you have a follow-up to that, sir?
HOLMES: Just add that Danyluk speaks perfect English and Yermak can get by in meetings but often does ask for clarifications.
QUIGLEY: Given the time, I would yield back.
SCHIFF: Ms. Stefanik.
STEFANIK: Before I turn to our witnesses, I just wanted to say to my Democratic colleagues, not a single Republican member of this committee has said that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 elections. As the ranking member stated, we published a report focused on Russian active measures in 2016 with policy recommendations as to how we strengthen our cyber resiliency and election security to counter Russia.
I myself have worked with members of this very committee on this issue, but also on the House Armed Services Committee. So to have our Democratic colleagues say these s untruthful statements just reeks of political desperation in their continued obsession to manipulate mainstream media coverage.
But the good news is the American people understand that this has been a partisan process from the start. The Democratic coordination with the whistle-blower, the incessant and astounding leaks, the unprecedented closed-door process, closed to the majority of members, closed to the press, closed to the people, starting this inquiry without taking a vote. And then when finally forced to take a vote, the vote was with bipartisan opposition.
Now with four minutes left I'm going to turn to our two witnesses. Thank you both for your service. Thank you, Dr. Hill, for your comments on the personal attacks. I wanted to ask you each fact-based questions. Dr. Hill, you testified that you handed over your duties on the NSC to Tim Morrison on July 15th, and that you physically left the White House on July 19th, correct?
HILL: That is correct, yes.
STEFANIK: So that means that by the time there was the July 25th call with President Trump and President Zelensky, you were no longer on the NSC, correct?
HILL: Actually I was still technically on the payroll of the NSC until the end of August, August 30th of 2019. But I was not physically in the building and I had handed over my duties to Mr. Morrison.
STEFANIK: And you were not on the call.
HILL: I was not on the call. That is absolutely correct.
STEFANIK: And it's also correct that you did not participate in the preparation of talking points or the specific coordination of setting up the call.
HILL: Not for that call. But let me just say for the record that there had been a long-anticipated -- and eventually there would be a call. So there was a call package that was prepared in advance. I just cannot say how much of that call package that had perhaps been prepared since, for example, of the inauguration of President Zelensky was then used as the basic material for that call.
So I did take part in the preparation of that standard call package. But I did not take part in any preparation for the specific call on July 25th.
STEFANIK: And the first time you actually read the transcript of the call was when it was released to the public.
HILL: That's correct.
STEFANIK: Mr. Holmes, I wanted to turn to you. Good to see you again. Thank you for mentioning the bipartisan delegation that I lead on behalf of the House Armed Services Committee with my friend Representative Anthony Brown from Maryland. We did have an exceptionally informative visit where we highlighted the bipartisan congressional support for Ukraine, in particular the importance of countering Russian aggression. And we discussed in the briefings at the embassy the importance of defensive lethal aid in the form of Javelins, which as you both -- I think you stated today, is, quote, "an important strategic deterrent to Russia."
And I just want to highlight on the record, I know this has been asked, the Javelins were provided by the Trump administration and not the Obama administration, correct?
HOLMES: That's correct. And I would just say, I think we discussed the importance of all our security assistance to Ukraine, not just the Javelin.
STEFANIK: Absolutely. All of our security assistance, which I strongly support. Again, thank you for being a host on that.
Dr. Hill, turning back to you. There has been discussion about the process of scheduling the meeting between President Zelensky and President Trump. And you testified that there was hesitancy to schedule this meeting until after the Ukrainian parliamentary elections, is that correct?
HILL: That is correct, yes.
STEFANIK: And that's because there was speculation in all analytical circles, both in Ukraine and outside the Ukraine, that Zelensky might not be able to get the majority that he needed to form a cabinet, correct?
HILL: That is correct.
STEFANIK: And you also testified that another aspect of the NSC's hesitancy to schedule this meeting was based on broader concerns related to Zelensky's ability to implement anti-corruption reforms. And this was in specific relation to Ukrainian oligarchs who basically were the owner of the TV company that Mr. Zelensky's program had been a part of, is that correct?
HILL: That is correct.
STEFANIK: You know, just distilling this down to the key facts, I wanted to ask both of you three key questions. So the fact of the matter is Ukraine ultimately did receive the aid, correct, Mr. Holmes?
STEFANIK: Yes. And, Dr. Hill? HILL: Correct, ultimately.
STEFANIK: And there was no investigation into the Bidens, correct, Mr. Holmes?
HOLMES: They did not open a new investigation into the Bidens.
STEFANIK: Correct. And, Dr. Hill?
STEFANIK: And there was, in fact, a meeting between President Trump and President Zelensky ultimately at the U.N., is that correct?
HOLMES: The president invited Zelensky to the Oval Office at a date undetermined that has not yet happened.
STEFANIK: The meeting at the U.N., President Trump and President Zelensky met at the U.N.
HOLMES: They did, but not at the Oval Office.
STEFANIK: But they did have a meeting at the U.N.
HOLMES: They did, ma'am.
STEFANIK: And, Dr. Hill?
STEFANIK: They did, OK. Thank you.
I yield back.
SCHIFF: Mr. Swalwell.
SWALWELL: Dr. Hill, yesterday I think a lot of Americans were scratching their heads as Ambassador Sondland testified that on September 9 he calls the president of the United States and just says broadly, what do you want from Ukraine? And the president says, there's no quid pro quo, there's no quid pro quo. Like being pulled over for speeding and being asked, do you know how fast you're going? And saying, I didn't rob the bank, I didn't rob the bank.
But your testimony today is that on July 10 of this year, you told one of the president's lawyers that you had concerns that a White House meeting was linked to investigations, is that right?
HILL: That's correct. Based on what Ambassador Sondland said in the wardroom.
SWALWELL: And so as early as July 10, the president's lawyers had knowledge that there was at least concern by a presidential employee about a linkage, is that right?
HILL: That's correct. SWALWELL: Dr. Hill, just like you were -- we are trying to account for all the president's men. You had that same concern when you saw Mr. Solomon's emails and you saw people who were outside the channels that you had been working on. So I want to walk you through something you told us earlier. You said that you have evidence that as recently as this year, President Trump believed someone named Kash (ph) was the Ukraine director, is that right?
HILL: It's not really evidence. And, look, I want to be very clear about this. I was asked a question about this in my deposition. I did not raise it. And to be honest, I was surprised that I was asked the question.
SWALWELL: But you heard that -- that name, Kash, is that right?
HILL: I did. But, again, it was in passing, and I explained the circumstances in which it came up. But I was asked a question in the course of my deposition about it.
SWALWELL: And the only person at the time who worked at the National Security Council was Kash Patel, is that right?
HILL: It was the only person I could think of.
SWALWELL: And Kash Patel, prior to working for the National Security Council from 2017 to 2018, worked for Ranking Member Nunes. Is that right?
HILL: I actually only found that out after the fact.
SWALWELL: And Ms. ...
HILL: Cause I wondered why I was being asked about him, so I went to look this up.
SWALWELL: And Dr. Hill, you --