Fiona Hill, former director of Europe and Russia at the American National Security Council, and diplomat David Holmes give testimony on Thursday in the deposition investigation into Donald Trump. Follow the developments here.
a few seconds ago
Journalists on the spot say that a copy of Holmes' opening statement has been circulated to the audience. It has 12 pages. The diplomat apparently has a lot to say.
2 minutes ago
The two witnesses have taken the oath. Holmes is the first to read his opening statement.
5 minutes ago
The highest-ranking Republican in the committee, Devin Nunes, makes his opening statement. It contains a list of Republican defenses that we have heard from him during every hearing in recent weeks. Nunes states, among other things, that the Trump government has provided Ukraine with much more military support than that of its predecessor Barack Obama.
"Thanks to the use of Javelin anti-tank missiles," says Nunes. He does not mention that Ukrainians are not allowed to use these rockets in the fight against pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian soldiers are building 'fake Javelins' at the front, to give the impression that the weapons can still be used, various media report.
Nunes is also talking about the conspiracy theory that Ukraine worked with the Democrats to sabotage Trump's presidential campaign. "They were caught," says Nunes about the Democrats. It is worth noting that evidence for this has never been provided. All witnesses who have passed by so far - including Ukraine Envoy Kurt Volker and Fiona Hills short-term successor to the National Security Council, Timothy Morrison - have said that the theory is not based on truth.
Quite as expected, Nunes criticizes the Democratic decision that the whistleblower, whose complaint about the telephone conversation between Trump and Zelensky on 25 July was the immediate cause for this procedure, does not have to come and testify. That too is a fixed part of the Republican strategy.
15 minutes ago
Who is David Holmes?
Holmes is a career diplomat who has been working as a political adviser since 2017 at the US embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. In that capacity, he was involved in high-level meetings between US and Ukrainian officials and kept notes of it. Holmes has also worked in Russia, Afghanistan, India, Colombia and Kosovo and worked for the National Security Council in Washington for a while. He is known as an official who is not afraid to speak critically about American policy.
What will he probably tell?
The name of Holmes emerged after the testimony of the acting ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor. He said that he had heard from his employee about a telephone conversation between EU ambassador Gordon Sondland and US President Donald Trump on 26 July. That was the day after a ruddy phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, which prompted the deposition investigation. According to Holmes, Trump asked a Sondland if Zelensky "would do the investigations". Sondland is said to have told him that the Ukrainian president was indeed planning that. "He would do anything you ask."
21 minutes ago
Who is Fiona Hill?
Hill is a British born. She is from northeastern England and grew up in relative poverty as the daughter of a coal miner and a nurse. Hill studied at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, learned Russian and was awarded a scholarship to Harvard University in the US. There she obtained masters in Russian and modern history. Hill worked between 2006 and 2009 with the US National Security Council working as an intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia. She then became director of the Center for the US and Europe of the prestigious Brookings Institution think tank.
The Russia expert is co-author of the book Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, a thorough analysis of the character of the Russian president, which appeared in 2013. In 2017, Hill was appointed under President Trump as director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, becoming the top White House adviser.
What is she expecting to say?
In its opening statement, which has been leaked, Hill will launch a firm attack on one of the Republican defense strategies: the suggestion that not Russia, but Ukraine was guilty of interference in the American elections in 2016. "I would ask that during this investigation please do not promote politically motivated untruths that so clearly represent Russian interests," Hill said. "These fictions are harmful, even if they are only used for domestic political purposes."
Like the other career officials who have previously testified publicly, Hill will criticize the alternative policy towards Ukraine. It was managed from the White House and led by Trumps personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
27 minutes ago
The room in the US Capitol is full and the waiting is now until the chairman of the intelligence committee, Democrat Adam Schiff, opens the session.
28 minutes ago
Hello, welcome to this live blog about the public hearings in the American House of Representatives. My name is Matthijs le Loux. My colleague Joost Nederpelt and I will keep you informed today about developments regarding the settlement investigation into President Donald Trump.
There is one hearing scheduled for today, the last of this week. The session started just after 3 p.m. (Dutch time). The witnesses of whom we will hear are Fiona Hill, former director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, and David Holmes, diplomat at the US embassy in Ukraine.
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