(WASHINGTON) — Two top White House officials said they were so disturbed by the Trump administration’s handling of Ukrainian policy that they reported their concerns directly to National Security Council Legal Adviser John Eisenberg, at one point relaying concerns that U.S.-Ukraine interactions were akin to a “drug deal” being cooked up by the White House chief of staff.
That’s according to closed-door interview transcripts released by House Democrats on Friday as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
The testimony by Fiona Hill, who has since left the White House after serving as senior director for Europe and Russia, and Army Lt. Col. Vindman, director of European Affairs at the National Security Council, raises serious questions about Eisenberg’s handling of the complaints and whether he tried to act on them.
As NSC legal adviser, Eisenberg would have been in a position to advise the president and his top aides to stop pressuring Ukraine to launch an investigation into Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden.
Vindman says he approached Eisenberg two weeks before Trump’s phone call in which he repeatedly urged the president of Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, warning him of the demands being made.
“I vaguely recall something about: ‘I’ll take a look into it. You know there might not be anything there. We’ll take a look into it,’ something of that nature” said Vindman, describing his conversation with Eisenberg, on July 10.
Vindman said he went back to Eisenberg again within an hour after Trump’s July 25 phone call to Ukraine’s president because he believed it amounted to a “demand” by Trump that a foreign power investigate a U.S. citizen, in this case Biden.
Hill said she, too, became alarmed after attending the private July 10 White House meetings with top Ukrainian officials in which it became clear to her that Mick Mulvaney, White House chief of staff, and Gordon Sondland, a Trump supporter who was given a U.S. ambassadorship after the election, were demanding that Ukraine launch investigation before being awarded U.S. support.
She said she reported her concerns to then-National Security Adviser John Bolton who demanded she relay the details to Eisenberg.
“You go and tell Eisenberg that I am not part of whatever drug deal,” Hill quoted Bolton as saying.
While some excerpts have been reported previously, the release allows the first complete look at their full testimony.
Trump, without evidence, has accused Vindman of being a “Never Trumper.”
Vindman’s testimony can be found here.
Her testimony can be read here.
The testimony release comes ahead of the first televised hearings in the impeachment probe next week as Democrats step up the public phase of their investigation.
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