Former National Security Council official Fiona Hill on Thursday said that by July it was obvious that Burisma was code for Joseph R. Biden and his family.
Ms. Hill said she knew the push for an investigation of Ukraine energy company Burisma Holdings was targeting the Bidens because President Trump’s private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani had been on TV talking about a link between the two.
“By this point, it was clear that Burisma was code for the Bidens because Giuliani laying it out there,” Ms. Hill testified at a House impeachment hearing.
Her remarks undercut earlier testimony by Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who said he was unaware of a connection between Burisma and the Bidens.
Mr. Sondland emerged as a key witness Wednesday when he described a quid pro quo deal for newly-elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to get a prized White House in exchange for announcing investigations of alleged corruption at Burisma and Ukraine meddling in the U.S. 2016 election.
However, Mr. Sondland insisted he never knew Burisma meant the Bidens.
Ms. Hill told of a mid-July meeting at the White House where Mr. Sondland and Ukraine officials hashed out the deal for a visit by Mr. Zelenky.
“Gordon Sondland was basically saying we have a deal here there will be a meeting. I have a deal here with Chief of Staff [Mick] Mulvaney [and] there will be a meeting if the Ukrainians open up or announce these investigations into 2016 and Burisma,” she said.
Ms. Hill said she immediately cut off the discussion.
“Having heard Mr. Giuliani over and over again on the television … by this point it was clear that Burisma was code for the Bidens because Giuliani laying it out there,” she said.
Mr. Trump’s push for Mr. Zelensky to investigate election meddling and Mr. Biden, a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, is the basis of House Democrats’ impeachment case.
The impeachment inquiry stems from a July 25 phone call in which Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Zelensky for a “favor” in launching the investigations. A whistleblower, who is believed to be a CIA official assigned to the White House, accused the president of abusing his power for personal gain, including withholding U.S. military aid from Ukraine to force the investigation.
A rough transcript of the call did not show a quid pro quo with the investigation request, but Democrats argue the threat was understood and part of an ongoing pressure campaign of “shadow” foreign policy conducted by Mr. Giuliani.
Though Mr. Sondland vouched for a quid pro quo in offering the White House visit, he refused to link the military aid to the requests.
Mr. Trump wanted an investigation into possible corruption involving Mr. Biden and his son Hunter, who got a high-paying job on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company, while his father was the point man for Obama White House policy in the country, which is notorious for corruption, especially in the energy industry.
Mr. Trump also wanted Ukraine to look into election interference and claims that Ukraine has a missing Democratic National Committee server that was hacked by Russia during the 2016 presidential campaigns.
An American cybersecurity company called CrowdStrike examined the server to probe the hack but the server disappeared before it could be handed over to the FBI.
Mr. Trump subscribes to an unsubstantiated theory that the server ended up in Ukraine.
• S.A. Miller can be reached at email@example.com.
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