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Trump Impeachment Hearing Day 5: team pushed Ukraine for Biden investigation: Witnesses

US President Donald Trump disregarded the advice of senior advisers to push a false theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, a former White House aide has told the impeachment inquiry.

Fiona Hill, the former senior director for Russia and Europe at the White House National Security Council, and David Holmes, the top political counsellor at the US embassy in Kyiv, testified on the fifth day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry.

In her opening statement, Ms Hill - the former top Russia experts to the White House - accused other Republicans of sowing doubt about Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

"Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country - and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did," she said.

She urged lawmakers not to promote "politically driven falsehoods" that cast doubt on Russia's interference in US elections.

"This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves," she said.

During Ms Hill's testimony, Democratic lawyer Daniel Goldman asked her: "So is it your understanding then that President Trump disregarded the advice of his senior officials about this theory and instead listened to Rudy Giuliani's views?"

"That appears to be the case, yes," she replied.

In her later testimony, she warned that Mr Giuliani had been making "explosive" and "incendiary" claims about Ukraine

US diplomat to Ukraine David Holmes also testified at Thursday's hearing.

In his opening statement, he said that his work at the embassy in Kiev became overshadowed in 2019 by the actions of Mr Giuliani.

"I became aware that Mr. Giuliani, a private lawyer, was taking a direct role in Ukrainian diplomacy," Mr Holmes said.

According to a discredited theory, it was Ukrainians or individuals with Ukrainian connections who interfered in the 2016 vote, rather than Russia. Fiona Hill said the president had instead listened to the views of his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Ms Hill called the claims about Ukraine a "fictional narrative".

The inquiry is assessing if Mr Trump withheld aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

It is illegal in the US to seek foreign help to gain electoral advantage. Mr Trump denies any wrongdoing.

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