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Analysis after Fiona Hill and David Holmes' impeachment testimony

Ex-White House Russia expert Fiona Hill and U.S. embassy in Ukraine official David Holmes testified Thursday about Trump and Ukraine.

Thursday marked the fifth day of public hearings in the House's impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, featuring testimony from one current and one former Trump administration official.

Fiona Hill, a former top Russia expert for the White House, and David Holmes, a senior diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, testified at a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee which started around 9 a.m. ET and, after a lengthy break for some House votes, ended around 4 p.m. ET.

Trump impeachment highlights:

Trump impeachment explained.

Trump impeachment timeline.

Who are the attorneys questioning the witnesses?

Transcript of Trump's conversation with the Ukrainian president

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White House says Trump wants Senate trial

The White House continued on Thursday evening to lash out at the House's impeachment inquiry, calling on Democrats to "stop these illegitimate sham hearings immediately."

"If they don’t, President Trump wants to have a trial in the Senate because it’s clearly the only chamber where he can expect fairness and receive due process under the Constitution," White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement. "We would expect to finally hear from witnesses who actually witnessed, and possibly participated in corruption - like Adam Schiff, Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and the so-called Whistleblower, to name a few."

Article II - Bonus: The Witnesses: Hill and Holmes

A bonus episode of Article II is live.

Today on Article II, Steve Kornacki talks to Garrett Haake, Washington Correspondent for MSNBC, about the testimony provided today by Fiona Hill, the former top Russia expert on the National Security Council, and David Holmes, an aide at the United States Embassy in Kyiv. 

The two discuss:

  • Hill’s accounting of Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine, and the dangers of a narrative perpetuated by Republicans that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 elections
  • Holmes’s recollection of the July 26 phone call he overheard between Trump and Sondland
  • How lawmakers from both parties handled what is expected to be the final phase of public testimony
  • What happens next in the impeachment inquiry

What happens next on the impeachment inquiry process?

Multiple members on both sides of the aisle say they don’t anticipate any additional depositions or hearings before the House Intelligence Committee at this point. Given this information and Schiff's lengthy closing statement this afternoon, this appears to be the end of the fact-finding portion of the inquiry.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat on the committee, told NBC News, "I don't see anything scheduled for this weekend, next week. But I don't know about past that. I mean we've seen so much testimony at this point that, maybe there's another David Holmes out there, I'm not really sure but let's see.

He added, "my understanding is that we would produce a report to submit to the Judiciary Committee. And then it's up to them to decide the next steps."

We are expecting both the Democratic and Republican sides to write reports about the Ukraine investigation. Members also said they anticipate staff on both sides will be working on their reports during part of next week.

Schiff will turn the Democratic report from the three committees headling the impeachment inquiry (Intelligence, Oversight, Foreign Affairs) over to  House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler to begin the next phase of the impeachment inquiry.

There are also two closed-door transcripts, with former White House budget official Mark Sandy and Diplomat Phillip Reeker, that have yet to be released. 

The House is on recess now until Dec. 3.

White House, GOP senators discuss limiting impeachment trial to two weeks

A senior White House official confirms that a group of Republican senators and senior White House officials met privately Thursday to discuss a strategy for a potential impeachment trial of President Trump, including proceedings in the Senate that could be limited to about two weeks. No final decision has been made, per this official.

The Washington Post first reported the news.

Among those in attendance: Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ted Cruz  of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas met with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway. 

The meeting was organized by White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland.

Ueland was also in attendance along with advisers Pam Bondi and Tony Sayegh, recently hired by the White House for impeachment messaging and strategy.

Graham spoke to NBC News following the meeting, saying that, "I just think the best thing for the country is to get this done quickly, but it's got to be done in a way that is acceptable to the body."

Trump campaign rips 'sham impeachment circus'

Tim Murtaugh, Trump 2020 communications director, criticized Democrats after Thursday's hearing.

"Two more witnesses and two more whiffs by Democrats in their sham impeachment circus," he said. "Let’s remember that Nancy Pelosi promised she would not proceed with impeachment unless it was a bipartisan endeavor, which it clearly is not."

Witnesses depart

Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill, center left, and David Holmes, top right, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, leave after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill on Nov. 21, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.Julio Cortez / AP

Jordan lashes out at Democrats after hearing

After the hearing wrapped, Jordan answered several questions about the hearings and what comes next. On what happens going forward he said, “frankly I don't know where it goes next or what they got planned. We just have to wait and see.” 

Jordan also said, "I think the American people see through it, they see that the facts are on the president's side, and they know this process is going entirely unfair."

He continued to attack Democrats and the process by saying, "Democrats have never got over the fact that this new guy who's never been in this town, never been in politics. This new guy came in here and has shaken this place up, and that drives them crazy. They've never accepted the will of 63 million Americans they never accepted the fact that Donald Trump won an electoral college landslide. And they are trying to do everything they can. It was first FBI investigation and it was the Mueller investigation. Now it's this."