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.

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Key GOP members leave hearing

Several Republicans have left the committee room, including Nunes, Jordan, Hurd and Ratcliffe.

Hill: Bolton looked pained about smear campaign against Yovanovitch

Holmes acts out Sondland's call with Trump

Under questioning from Goldman, Holmes explained that he was able to overhear the July 26 conversation between Trump and Sondland because Trump was speaking on the phone extremely loudly.

Trump was speaking so loudly, in fact, that Holmes said Sondland “winced” in discomfort and had to hold the phone away from his ear.

Using his hand, he acted out the scenario for members of the committee.

“He held the cellphone away from his ear like this,” Holmes said.

White House responds to Holmes' testimony

Meet the two seasoned staff prosecutors now in impeachment spotlight

The fast-moving impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals is not only putting the partisanship on the House Intelligence Committee on full display, it's also catapulting the lead lawyers for both parties into the national spotlight.

Daniel Goldman is the Democrats' lead counsel and Steve Castor represents the Republicans. Both lawyers have extensive experience in Washington and in the courtroom and led the questioning of the closed-door depositions of witnesses in the inquiry. Both will have 45 minutes to grill witnesses on behalf of their respective sides as the inquiry moves forward.

Read the story.

Hill: Russia’s interest 'is to delegitimize the president'

After an opening statement that largely focused on how Russia has “perpetrated and propagated” the “fictional narrative” that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, Hill is prompted by Schiff to expand on Russia’s prerogatives.

Russia’s interest “is to delegitimize the president,” Hill explained. Their goal was to put whoever became president in 2016 — Trump or Clinton — “under a cloud.” She says that the misinformation Moscow has put forth about Ukraine and the 2016 election advances that goal.

Holmes lays out damage to Ukraine

Holmes: Sondland told State Dept. staffer CNN interview was 'supposed' to occur in mid-September

Holmes said in his opening statement that he and his colleagues were concerned after the hold on U.S. aid to Ukraine was lifted on Sept. 11 that Zelenskiy had committed “in exchange for the lifting” to give a requested CNN interview. 

Holmes said that they received several indications that the CNN interview would occur. On Sept. 13, Holmes said one of his colleagues received a phone call from Sondland.

“My Embassy colleague texted me regarding the call that, ‘Sondland said the [Zelenskyy] interview is supposed to be today or Monday [Sept 16] and they plan to announce that a certain investigation that was ‘on hold’ will progress. [Sondland’s aide] did not know if this was decided or if [Sondland] is advocating this. …’”

Ultimately, the CNN interview never occurred. 

Holmes says he tried to raise Ukraine's profile