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Donald Trump denies ‘quid pro quo’ Ukraine offer

FILE- President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani speaks to reporter's on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington

Ms Hill said national security adviser John Bolton told her separately he didn't want to be involved in any "drug deal" Mr Sondland and Mr Trump's acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney were cooking up over the Ukrainian investigations Mr Trump wanted.

Those discredited theories have been advanced by Trump himself, who in a July 25 phone call at the centre of the impeachment inquiry asked Ukraine's leader to investigate the possibility. "This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves".

The notion that Ukraine and not Russian Federation interfered in 2016 was one of two issues that the US president urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate in a July 25 phone call that is at the heart of the impeachment effort. "It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified".

"I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests", Ms Hill said in prepared opening remarks to the House Intelligence Committee.

"We are running out of time to stop them", she will say. "President Putin and the Russian security services aim to counter USA foreign policy objectives in Europe, including in Ukraine, where Moscow wishes to reassert political and economic dominance". Putin, she said, deploys millions of dollars to "weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives". "When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we can not combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each another, degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy".

Highlighting just how much could still be revealed, testimony from a Wednesday evening witness upended Republicans' claim that Ukraine only learned about a US hold on security aid in late August, days before the money was eventually released.

Trump focused his words on comments by US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testimony in congressional impeachment hearings about a conversation the two men had in which Trump told him he wanted nothing from Ukraine. At the same time, Trump was temporarily blocking release of $391 million in USA military aid Kyiv wanted to fight pro-Russian separatists.

The House impeachment investigation started after a government worker reported concerns of wrongdoing to a government lawyer.

Dr Fiona Hill is set to appear before House Democrats looking into allegations of POTUS Trump's requests to Ukraine to dig up dirt on his 2020 rival, Democrat Joe Biden, in exchange for resumed aid. Hill said after seeing Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was making assertions on TV, it became clear that "Burisma was code for the Bidens because Giuliani was laying it out there".

Democrats said Sondland's seven hours of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee had bolstered their case for Trump's impeachment for what they have labelled "extortion".

David Holmes, a US diplomat in Ukraine, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 21, 2019.

President Donald Trump sought Wednesday to distance himself from USA envoy Gordon Sondland as he made an explosive appearance before an impeachment hearing, while also asserting that his testimony had exonerated him entirely. Holmes was having lunch with Sondland in Kyiv and said he could overhear Trump ask about "investigations" during a "colorful" phone call with Sondland.

Asked to elaborate on what she thought Bolton meant, Hill replied that what Giuliani was saying was "pretty explosive" and that the former NY mayor "was clearly pushing forward issues and ideas that would, you know, probably come back to haunt us and in fact I think that that's where we are today". Holmes quoted Trump as asking.

Sondland replied, "He's gonna do it", adding that Zelenskyy would do "anything you ask him to", the official said.

Later, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that Sondland "never told Secretary Pompeo that he believed the president was linking aid to investigations of political opponents".

The circumstances surrounding the phone call that Trump has seized on are also notable. Arguably, however, it is America's extraordinary ability to assimilate and leverage immigrant talent - not to mention defending America's allies when called for - that has made the United States a superpower. "I noted that there was big stuff going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russian Federation, and Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant big stuff that benefits the president, like the Biden investigation".

Democratic lawmakers increasingly used the term "conspiracy" Wednesday and Thursday to refer to Trump's conduct and the actions of top Trump officials, detailed by Sondland. My hearing is, and has been, great.

The ambassador said he and Trump spoke directly about desired investigations, including a colourful cellphone call this summer overheard by others at a restaurant in Kyiv. I've even tried, but to no avail.