Fiona Hill’s extraordinary answer about her relationship with the American ambassador to the European Union was ultimately a finely distilled description of what the impeachment hearings are all about: President Donald Trump’s pursuit of a “domestic political errand” that came at the expense of American foreign policy.
It was stunning in its clarity, but also that it came during the Republicans’ turn for questioning.
Hill, the former senior director for Russia and Europe at the National Security Council, was several hours into her testimony when she was quizzed by the Republican staff attorney about Gordon Sondland’s account of their final meeting.
Sondland had told lawmakers Hill was “pretty upset about her role in the administration, about her superiors, about the President.”
“She was sort of shaking,” Sondland said. “She was pretty mad.”
Hill acknowledged she was frustrated. But her reasoning why ended up predicting the impeachment crisis now swirling.
Her steady demeanor and humble acknowledgment Wednesday that she was wrong in her assessment of Sondland did not blunt the impact of what she saying.
Instead, she said matter-of-factly that Sondland was simply performing a different task, one entirely separate from the policy-centric national security goals she was pursuing.
And she said she predicted it would end badly — as it undoubtedly has.
“He was being involved in a domestic political errand. And we were being involved in national security foreign policy. And those two things had just diverged,” she said.
“I had not put my finger on that at the moment, but I was irritated with him and angry with him that he wasn’t fully coordinating,” she went on. “And I did say to him, ‘Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up.’ And here we are.”
At the same time, Hill inserted a brush-back of Sondland, saying his earlier testimony that she was shaking in anger was a misinterpretation of female anger. She was blunt that some of her interactions with him were unfortunate, and seemed slightly regretful at her anger.
But she said his reaction was rooted in gender bias.
“Often when women show anger, it’s not fully appreciated. It’s often, you know, pushed onto emotional issues perhaps, or deflected onto other people,” she said.
There was no shaking as she was delivering this answer.