EVENT ENDED

Analysis after Fiona Hill and David Holmes' impeachment testimony

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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

Download the NBC News mobile app for the latest news on the impeachment inquiry

Live Blog

OPINION: Trump impeachment inquiry bombshells imperil Republicans' evidence defense

Did President Donald Trump abuse his power when he pressured Ukraine into announcing investigations that would benefit him personally? This, in a nutshell, is the question at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

Democrats say Trump wanted Ukraine to announce an investigation into the company Burisma, which would allegedly implicate political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and to investigate (debunked) allegations that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election in order to help Hillary Clinton.

On Wednesday, Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, backed up this assessment, clearly and repeatedly explaining Trump’s role in this scandal. Even Ken Starr said that it was “one of those bombshell days." But Republicans have yet to budge from their line of attack. The GOP has been trying to rebut a stream of increasingly compelling evidence by arguing — absurdly — that the case against Trump falls apart if no witnesses actually heard Trump say he himself intended to pressure the Ukrainians to launch the investigation, or if no witnesses personally watched Trump pressure the Ukrainians.

In other words, conservatives in the House are trying to persuade the American people that unless Trump signs a confession or is caught on video actually telling someone to commit an impeachable act, there is no case against him. This, of course, is absurd. People are often found to have committed wrongful acts without having confessed or without, say, the act being caught on video. Indeed, most of the time, people don’t confess or mention to someone that they intend to commit a wrongful act.

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