Fiona Hill to say partisan politics drove a 'fictional' narrative on Ukraine

Image: Fiona Hill arrives to testify in Trump impeachment inquiry on Capito
Fiona Hill, former senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council, arrives on Capitol Hill on Nov. 4, 2019. Copyright Leah Millis Reuters
By Josh Lederman and Peter Alexander with NBC News Politics
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The former White House official is expected to detail warning about the threat to U.S. democracy posed by Russia.


WASHINGTON — Former White House official Fiona Hill will tell Congress on Thursday that domestic partisan politics have driven a "fictional alternative narrative" about Ukraine that is "misguided" and wrong, a person familiar with her testimony tells NBC News.

Hill, who oversaw Russia and Europe policy during key moments in the Ukraine timeline, will also forcefully warn about the threat to American democracy posed by Moscow, the person said.

Hill becomes the latest witness to events in the West Wing to testify publicly in the impeachment inquiry. In her earlier, private deposition, she revealed that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland had told Ukrainians visiting the White House that there was an agreement to grant Ukraine's president a visit if he committed publicly into investigations into President Donald Trump's political opponents.

She also described a "shadow foreign policy" overseen by Sondland and others, and how former national security adviser John Bolton had told her to report to lawyers what he described as a "drug deal" cooked up by Sondland and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Hill was expected to affirm that testimony before television cameras on Thursday, as well as to defend strenuously her political impartiality as a national security official. Many of the current and former officials who have testified in the impeachment hearings have been accused by Trump of being a "never Trumper" or otherwise attacked by the White House.

Hill, an American who was born in the U.K., planned to describe her family's background as coal miners who immigrated to the U.S. She will emphasize that she's served under three presidents from both parties during her foreign policy career, said the individual, who discussed her testimony ahead of the hearing on condition of anonymity.

She planned to describe her willingness to testify about what she witnessed as "her patriotic duty," the person said. The White House previously tried to limit what Hill could say by arguing certain topics could fall under executive privilege.

One of the foremost U.S. experts on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hill left the White House National Security Council in July, shortly before Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. She testified previously about being told in May that Zelenskiy was rattled by overtures from Sondland and Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. She said Bolton had referred to Giuliani as a "hand grenade."

Her testimony comes as Democrats are nearing the end of a list of witnesses scheduled to testify publicly in the impeachment investigation. Although the public hearings were expected to be televised replays of the initial, closed-door depositions, nearly all the public witnesses have provided new information about pertinent events that have raised even more questions for House investigators.

Republicans and Trump's allies have sought to distance the president from the allegations by emphasizing that witnesses only knew about some of the events second-hand and that Trump had said repeatedly there was not a quid pro quo. They have argued that any impression officials had that Trump leveraged military aid for investigations into the Biden family and the 2016 election was speculation.

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