Trump ex-Russia adviser Fiona Hill testifies in impeachment inquiry

Sondland Trump

Trump is joined by Sondland as he arrives at Melsbroek Air Base in Brussels Belgium

Sondland played a leading role in the Trump administration's efforts to pressure Ukraine to open investigations of the president's political rivals, text messages obtained and later released by House Democrats show.

Giuliani also said he will not cooperate and could face contempt of Congress charges.

His testimony backed up accounts from other USA government insiders who have said they were unnerved by Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine.

Hill said Sondland raised the matter of investigations, which she and others took as a reference to a probe into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, Giuliani announced that he would not comply with a congressional subpoena requiring him to turn over documents related to the Ukraine operation.

Kent, who has spent much of his career fighting corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere, is the second career diplomat to testify as part of the probe after being subpoenaed.

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Added to that was the revealing testimony from a former top Trump Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, who sources say testified that then-national security adviser John Bolton referred to Giuliani as a "hand grenade" who was going to "blow everyone up".

"I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up", Bolton, who was sacked by Trump in September, told Hill to tell White House lawyers, The New York Times reported, citing two people at the deposition.

Giuliani had faced a Tuesday deadline to produce requested documents. "Moreover, documents sought in the subpoena are protected by attorney-client, attorney work-product, and executive privileges".

Mr. Bolton got into a tense exchange on July 10 with Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union, who was working with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to three people who heard the testimony.

Kent's testimony described how he believed Giuliani's efforts to oust the Ukrainian ambassador and conduct a parallel foreign policy was "wrong" and how Ukraine policy-making in the Trump administration had been consolidated into the hands of a few officials, according to Connolly.

Democrats have accused Trump of pressuring a vulnerable US ally to dig up dirt on a domestic rival after withholding $391 million in USA security aid.

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Meanwhile on Twitter, Trump lashed out at lawmakers, saying 'Democrats are allowing no transparency at the Witch Hunt hearings'.

He said that because there is no special counsel investigation into the Trump relationship with Ukraine, it is especially important that witnesses can not see other witnesses' testimony and alter their own statements to lawmakers. Yovanovitch was removed from her post in May.

- House Democrats are gauging support for a vote to formally authorize the impeachment inquiry. Trump faces allegations he threatened to with hold almost $400 million in funding unless the Ukraine agreed to launch an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden.

It's been almost a month since the White House released an official call summary of Trump's July 25 conversation with Zelensky, in which the American president was quoted saying, "T$3 here's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with [Attorney General Bill Barr] would be great".

Trump has denied wrongdoing and defended his request to Zelenskiy during the phone call, which prompted a formal whistleblower complaint by a person with a United States intelligence agency.

According to State Department emails contained in a package of material shared with congressional staff last month and later seen by Reuters, Kent told colleagues that Yovanovitch had become the target of a "classic disinformation operation".

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