WASHINGTON (WFLA) – The House Intelligence Committee is set to resume public impeachment hearings again on Thursday morning. Current and former officials have been testifying this week in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Here’s a breakdown of what happened today. Latest updates appear at top and all time are ET.
4:20 p.m. – Testimony has wrapped in what is expected to be the final day of the public impeachment hearings.
Here’s what could happen next:
Committee members have started taking five-minute turns to question the witnesses.
Rep. Ratcliffe and Rep. Turner apparently left after their turns. Hill asked if she could respond and spent about three minutes talking about the importance of the hearings.
“It’s unfortunate that Congressmen Turner and Ratcliffe have left as well because I think all of us that came here under a legal obligation to do so,” she said. “We came as fact witnesses.”
She added that, “we are here to provide what we know and what we’ve heard…and to be of some help to all of you who are really making a very momentous decision here. We are not the people who make that decision.”
Hill testified about Ambassador Yovanovitch, saying it was “dispiriting” to see the accusations against her.
“She was an easy target as a woman and I’m very sorry to hear what’s happened to Congresswoman Stefanik. This just illustrates the point and the problem,” she said.
When asked by Rep. Sewell if she is a “Never-Trumper,” Hill said, “I honestly don’t know what the definition of a ‘Never-Trumper’ is. It’s a puzzling term to apply to nonpartisan officials. I chose to come into the administration. I could easily have said no.”
She added that getting hate comes with the territory.
“We’re constantly having to block Twitter posts of my name and address. We’ve been doing this over the last couple of days.”
Rep. Jordan and Holmes got into a heated exchange over the phone call that Holmes said he overheard between President Trump and Ambassador Sondland. Rep. Jordan asked Holmes why they only recently heard about the call.
“I believe Ambassador Taylor already knew. That it was not news to him that the president was pressing for a Biden investigation,” Holmes told him. “It was obvious what the president was pressing for.”
1 p.m. – Rep. Nunes and the GOP lawyer have started questioning Hill and Holmes.
Hill testified about a meeting where she had a bit of a “blowup” with Ambassador Sondland.
“I was upset with him because he wasn’t fully telling us about the meetings he was having,” Hill said. “And he said to me, ‘but I’m briefing the president, I’m briefing Chief of Staff Mulvaney, I’m briefing Secretary Pompeo and I’ve talked to Ambassador Bolton. Who else do I have to deal with?'”
“He was being involved in a domestic political errand. We were involved in national security foreign policy. And those two things had diverged” she added. “He thought he was carrying out what he had been instructed to carry out.”
Rep. Nunes questioned Holmes over the “Black Ledger” and the “Steele Dossier.”
11:30 a.m. – The House Intelligence Committee is taking a break and is expected to return around 12:30 or 1 p.m.
During the break, Evan Donovan was joined by Cassie Smedile, the Deputy Director of Communications for the Republican National Committee. You can watch the full interview here:
10:20 a.m. – Rep. Schiff and the lawyer for the Democrats have started questioning the two witnesses.
Rep. Schiff asked Hill why Russians are pushing the narrative that Ukraine was the country that infiltrated the 2016 election.
“The goal of the Russians was to put whoever became the president – by trying to tip their hands on one side of the scale – under a cloud,” Hill said. “So if Clinton had been elected president…she too would have had major questions about her legitimacy.”
“I think what we’re seeing here as a result of all these narratives is exactly what the Russian government was hoping for,” Hill added. “If they seed question, they seed doubt, they have everybody questioning the legitimacy of a presidential candidate…that they would pit one side of our electorate against the other. That they would pit one party against the other.”
10:10 a.m. – In Dr. Hill’s opening statement, she made it clear she is nonpartisan and is only focused on the truth.
Hill scolded some members of the committee, saying it appears some believe Russia didn’t conduct a campaign against the United States and, instead, Ukraine did.
“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services,” she said.
She also delivered a warning about the upcoming election.
“Right now, Russia’s security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election. We are running out of time to stop them,” she said. “I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”
9:40 a.m. – In his opening statement, Holmes testified that things “changed dramatically” at the embassy in Ukraine in early 2019.
According to Holmes, the three priorities “became overshadowed by a political agenda” that he says was promoted by Rudy Giuliani and others.
Holmes also spoke of the ousting of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who testified Friday.
“The barrage of allegations directed at Ambassador Yovanovitch – a career ambassador – is unlike anything I have seen in my professional career,” Holmes said.
Holmes then spoke about the phone call he heard between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump.
“I heard President Trump ask, ‘So he’s going to do the investigation?’ Sondland replied that ‘he’s going to do it,'” Holmes testified.
Holmes said he then asked Sondland about the president’s impression of Ukraine and if it was true that Trump did not give an “expletive” about Ukraine.
“Sondland agreed the president did not give an ‘expletive about the Ukraine,'” Holmes said.
9:30 a.m. – Hill and Holmes have been sworn in. Holmes will deliver his opening statement first.
9 a.m. – Testimony is expected to begin soon in Day 5 of the public impeachment hearings.
Fiona Hill, the former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia, is testifying publicly one month after giving a closed-door deposition. Hill worked directly under then-National Security Council Adviser John Bolton and testified that Bolton cut a White House meting with visiting Ukrainians short when Ambassador Gordon Sondland asked them about “the investigations.”
The second witness is David Holmes, a political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. Holmes gave a closed-door deposition last week but was later called to testify in the public hearings. Holmes said he was having lunch with Ambassador Sondland when he heard President Trump on the phone asking about “the investigations.” He testified that the call was “extremely distinctive” and said he’d “never seen anything like this.”
8:30 a.m. – Fiona Hill’s opening statement has been released online.
According to a document obtained by NBC News and CNN, Hill is expected to confront the House Intelligence Committee about what she’s calling a conspiracy.
“Based on questions and statements I have heard, 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,” the statement says. “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”
Host J.B. Biunno and political reporter Evan Donovan will break down this week’s hearings beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET Thursday. They will be joined by political analysts to provide in-depth analysis of the proceedings.
Fiona Hill, a former White House Russia expert and Mr. David Holmes, Political Counselor, U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine will testify beginning at 9 a.m. ET.
Hill had previously told House investigators that then-National Security Adviser John Bolton instructed her to report her concerns about Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s dealings with Ukraine to NSC lawyers.
Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor, testified in his closed-door deposition that he overheard President Trump discuss “investigations” with Gordon Sondland in a phone call on July 26.
The impeachment inquiry all started with an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint, turned over to Congress in early September, that Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country” in the 2020 US election in a series of events culminating in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.