Fiona Hill and David Holmes testified today that they very easily realized that Trump’s allies were talking about an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden when they mentioned “Burisma,” a Ukrainian energy company.
Some context: Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, had a high-paid position on the board of Burisma. He took the job while his father was the point person for the Obama administration’s policy toward Ukraine, raising concerns about a conflict of interest.
Remember: Despite that potential ethical lapse by Hunter Biden, there’s no evidence of criminality or corruption by the Bidens in Ukraine. Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani have been spreading conspiracies about the Bidens all year.
Today, Democratic staff lawyer Daniel Goldman asked Hill, “Was it apparent to you that when President Trump, Rudy Giuliani or anyone else was pushing for an investigation into Burisma, that the reason why they wanted that investigation related to what President Trump said here, the Bidens?”
“It was very apparent to me that that was what Rudy Giuliani intended, yes, intended to convey that Burisma was linked to the Bidens and he said this publicly repeatedly,” Hill said.
Holmes also said “yes,” he understood that Burisma was code for the Bidens.
Other players in the scandal have testified that they didn’t make the connection until many months later. This includes former US special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker and US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Both Volker and Sondland were handpicked by Trump to deal with Ukraine issues – not career foreign service officers.
Volker said that he if made the connection, he would have raised objections, but he thought the references to Burisma were part of a legitimate Ukrainian probe into the Ukrainian company. Sondland said he made the connection later in the summer, and didn’t see any of Giuliani’s many television interviews and social media posts about the Bidens.
Volker and Sondland are essentially saying they took Trump and Giuliani at face value – that they were deeply concerned about a random Ukrainian company – and didn't take any steps to figure out what they were talking about.
Another key witness, former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison, testified this week that when Hill first told him about Giuliani’s interest in a "Burisma" probe, he googled the company and figured out the Biden connection.