Hill defends impeachment witnesses: ‘We came as fact witnesses’

President Donald Trump’s former top Russia adviser offered a broad defense of the witnesses who have testified in the House impeachment inquiry while making a call for unity in a powerful moment during Thursday’s impeachment inquiry testimony.

Fiona Hill’s comments came after Rep. Brad Wenstrup called the impeachment inquiry a “coup” and contrasted the current political division with unity he felt in the military serving alongside “soldiers from many backgrounds” before yielding back his time without asking Hill any questions.

“Could I actually say something?” she asked. While Wenstrup protested her ability to respond, Hill praised Wenstrup’s comments as “very powerful about the importance of overcoming hatred and certainly partisan division.”

“I think all of us who came here under legal obligation, also felt we had a moral obligation to do so. We came as fact witnesses,” she said.

Hill defended the witnesses who have appeared for testimony as only there to “provide what we know and what we’ve heard.”

“I understand that for many members, this is maybe hearsay. I’ve talked about things I’ve heard with my own ears. I understand that Ambassador Sondland has said a lot of things. I have told you what he told me and what others told me,” she said.

“A lot of other people have said things to me again as well and also to Mr. Holmes, and we’re here to relate to you what we heard, what we saw and what we did, and to be of some help to all of you in really making a very momentous decision here,” she said..” We are not the people who make that decision.”

Hill told lawmakers earlier in her testimony that US Ambassador Gordon Sondland was correct to exclude her from his effort for Ukraine to announce investigations — because Sondland’s effort had separated from foreign policy into politics.

“But it struck me when (Wednesday), when you put up on the screen Ambassador Sondland’s emails, and who was on these emails, and he said these are the people who need to know, that he was absolutely right,” Hill said, referencing emails Sondland had sent to officials that included acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. “Because 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.”

Hill added: “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. And I did say to him, ‘Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up.’ And here we are.”

The House impeachment inquiry is rooted in a whistleblower complaint that deals with a phone call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. A transcript of the conversation released by the White House shows Trump repeatedly pushed Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.

CNN’s Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.