Ex-White House aide: Giuliani work in Ukraine was 'domestic political errand' for Trump

In what may be a final day of public impeachment hearings by the House Intelligence Committee, a former National Security Council official said she shared her concerns about the work in Ukraine of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, recalling she had warned officials the effort would lead to trouble.

"I did say to Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up," Hill said. "And here we are."

Repeating a warning from her former boss at the Trump White House, ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton, Hill quoted Bolton say saying 'Giuliani was a hand grenade that was going blow everyone up.”

In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Hill criticized the interest inside the White House in Giuliani's efforts to press Ukraine to start investigations into Hunter Biden, and GOP questions about interference in the 2016 elections by Ukraine, deriding it as a "domestic political errand."

In testifying about Giuliani's back channel work in Ukraine, Hill described how she confronted U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland about the two-track diplomatic efforts on Ukraine, complaining that Sondland was not keeping her in the loop on his work - and then predicting it would cause problems.

Hill said she made much the same prediction to her former boss, Bolton, saying the Giuliani effort would 'backfire' on the White House.

"The story line he was promoting, the narrative he was promoting was going to backfire," Hill said. "I think it has backfired."

In her appearance, Hill also agreed with the testimony of Sondland on Wednesday, in which he said Giuliani was pressing a quid pro quo - trading a White House meeting for the new leader of Ukraine for investigations sought by President Trump.

The hearing also featured testimony from a U.S. official in the American embassy in Ukraine, David Holmes, who overheard a phone call between Sondland and President Trump.

"The President's voice was loud and recognizable," Holmes said, telling lawmakers that Sondland actually held the phone away from his ear and winced at the volume from Mr. Trump.

In that call, Holmes said he clearly heard the President ask Sondland if Ukraine was going to announce investigations sought by the President about the Bidens, Burisma, and the allegations of interference by Ukraine in the 2016 elections.

“I then heard President Trump ask, 'so he's going to do the investigation?'” Holmes recounted. 

“Ambassador Sondland replied, 'he's going to do it,'” Holmes added.

Republicans tangled with Holmes several times over his story.

At one point in the GOP questions to Holmes, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) requested the Foreign Service Officer declare that he would never reveal the details of such a high level call in the future.

"I think it was Gordon Sondland who showed indiscretion by having that conversation over a public phone line," Holmes said.

Earlier, Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) rebuked Holmes for revealing portions of the Trump-Sondland call, where Sondland told Mr. Trump that the leader of Ukraine "loves your ass."

Turner said it was embarrassing to President Zelensky; Holmes defended his actions, calling Zelensky a "Ukrainian patriot."

You can find more coverage of Thursday's impeachment hearing at this link. 

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