White House Adviser Thought US Envoy Was Clueless—and a Risk

Fiona Hill testified that she warned about Gordon Sondland
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2019 5:31 PM CDT
Trump Adviser Feared Rookie Ambassador Was a Security Risk
Former White House advisor on Russia, Fiona Hill, leaves Capitol Hill on Monday after testifying.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Fiona Hill, a former high-ranking White House foreign affairs adviser, told House impeachment investigators that the US ambassador to the EU was so unprepared and inexperienced that she thought he was a security risk. Gordon Sondland told foreign officials they could drop by the White House any time, she said, and used his personal cellphone for government business. Hill told investigators that she took her concerns that other countries could take advantage of Sondland to White House intelligence officials, the New York Times reports. She did not accuse him of intentionally doing any harm. The Times reporting is based on information from two people familiar with Hill's appearance. She also testified that Romanian officials once showed up at the White House without appointments, invoking Sondland's name.

Sondland is a Trump donor who was in the hotel business, working for years for Republicans in an effort to win an ambassadorship. He contributed $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee, per the Washington Post, then began calling in favors to get Republicans to lobby the president-elect for him. Sondland had also raised money from other donors for Mitt Romney and John McCain. Although the White House and State Department have told administration officials not to testify, Sondland's lawyer said the ambassador will meet in private Thursday with House impeachment investigators. (Sondland seems prepared to say Trump told him to send the no-quid-pro-quo text about Ukraine.)

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