Former White House Russia expert recalls testy exchanges with Ambassador Sondland, says he was pursuing ‘a domestic, political errand’
Rep. Chris Stewart, as he started his round of questioning, appeared to acknowledge a reality: Republicans aren’t really asking Fiona Hill or David Holmes any questions.
“I actually have no questions for you that haven’t already been asked,” he said before spending five minutes delivering his view of the impeachment inquiry generally (he views it negatively).
In truth, the past several Republicans have barely asked a question of the witnesses, choosing instead to deliver statements and describe their views of the proceedings.
The shift came after Hill undercut several Republican talking points, including during the Republican questioning time.
She defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a previous witness, despite testimony from her successor at the National Security Council that she’d raised concerned about him.
Hill explained why Republican claims that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election didn’t match reality and played into Russian claims.
And she downplayed the idea that Ukraine was trying to take down President Trump during the election, saying she heard a lot of countries say hurtful thing about Trump but that it didn’t impact his views of those places.
Republicans did resume asking questions with Rep. Elise Stefanik, who has emerged in the hearings as one of the sharpest questioners.
But her colleagues appeared to acknowledge that going up against Hill was a losing proposition.
That was perhaps most evident for Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who used his time to recall his military service and question Hill’s assertions that some Republicans are trying to downplay Russia’s meddling efforts.
She delivered a lengthy response, praising him for speaking “very eloquently” and saying she was simply worried that Russian election interference was being clouded out by claims of Ukrainian meddling.