WASHINGTON — Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top Russia and Europe adviser, headed to Capitol Hill on Monday morning where she is prepared to testify that she and other officials objected strenuously to the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine, only to be disregarded.
Ms. Hill, who stepped down from the White House’s National Security Council staff over the summer, viewed the recall of Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch from Kiev as an egregious abuse of the system by allies of Mr. Trump who were seeking to remove a perceived obstacle, according to a person familiar with Ms. Hill’s account.
The removal of Ms. Yovanovitch has emerged as a key episode in the narrative under examination by the House as part of its impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump. A career diplomat, Ms. Yovanovitch was targeted by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and other allies who were seeking to press Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s Democratic rivals.
Ms. Hill will be the first person who worked in the White House to be deposed by House investigators and is appearing despite the White House declaration last week that it would refuse to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry or allow its staff to do so. The White House has not attempted to stop Ms. Hill from testifying, according to the person familiar with her account, but White House lawyers have exchanged letters with Ms. Hill’s lawyer about precedents regarding the confidentiality of presidential communications.
Sensitive to those restraints, Ms. Hill may limit answers regarding direct interactions with the president, the person said. But her testimony is being highly anticipated, in part because she has a long history as a skeptic of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia who nonetheless worked for two years for Mr. Trump, who has made friendship with Mr. Putin a high priority.
She will not offer an opening statement as did Ms. Yovanovitch and Kurt D. Volker, the former special envoy for Ukraine, when they were interviewed by House investigators. The interview will take place behind closed doors but parts or all of it may be made public later. Unlike Mr. Volker, she has no documents, emails or text messages to turn over because she left them behind when she stepped down.
Her interview will kick off another week of investigation by the House. George P. Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state who deals with the region, is scheduled to testify on Tuesday. Gordon D. Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union who inserted himself into the Ukraine portfolio, is due to testify on Thursday.
Ms. Hill is a widely respected British-born former Brookings Institution scholar and intelligence officer. She is the author, with Clifford Gaddy, of “Mr. Putin,” a critical biography of the Russian leader, and she served as senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs on the National Security Council staff from 2017 until last summer.
She turned over her duties to her successor on July 15 and left on July 19, just days before the July 25 telephone call in which Mr. Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate conspiracy theories about Ukrainian help to Democrats in the 2016 election and supposed corruption by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Ms. Hill is prepared to testify that she opposed the idea of the phone call because she did not understand its purpose. While it was described as a congratulatory call following parliamentary elections in Ukraine, Mr. Trump had already made a congratulatory call to Mr. Zelensky in April following his own election.
Ms. Hill will testify that while she was the president’s top adviser on Russia and Ukraine, she was cut out of the loop as Mr. Giuliani and others ran a shadow diplomacy intended to benefit Mr. Trump’s political position, according to the person informed about her account. She was not told, the person said, that Mr. Trump would use the call to press for an investigation into Mr. Biden.
Her testimony will not establish a quid pro quo between Mr. Trump’s pressure for investigations and his decision to withhold $391 million in American assistance to Ukraine, the person said. But she will confirm that the administration leveraged a coveted White House invitation for Mr. Zelensky to a commitment to investigate corruption, which was seen as code for investigating Democrats.
Ms. Hill took her objections to the treatment of Ms. Yovanovitch, who was targeted by Mr. Giuliani and conservative media outlets, to John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, as well as others. Mr. Bolton shared her concerns, according to the person, and was upset at Mr. Giuliani’s activities, which she viewed as essentially co-opting American foreign policy toward Ukraine.
Ms. Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the foreign service who served under Republican and Democratic administrations, including three times as an ambassador, told House investigators last week that she was abruptly told to get “on the next plane” home last spring, ending her tour in Ukraine.
While the deputy secretary of state told her she had “done nothing wrong,” her removal, she testified, appeared to be based “on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” a reference to Mr. Giuliani and some of his associates.
Two associates of Mr. Giuliani were arrested on Thursday on campaign finance charges connected to their efforts to push Ms. Yovanovitch out. They raised money for Pete Sessions, then a Republican member of Congress from Texas, and Mr. Sessions then pressed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fire Ms. Yovanovitch for privately expressing “disdain” for the Trump administration. Ms. Yovanovitch denied ever expressing that sentiment.
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