On day five of public hearings in the House’s impeachment inquiry of President Donald J Trump, Dr Fiona Hill and Mr David Holmes testified before the House intelligence Committee. Both of these individuals have two things in common: they both worked under the current president’s administration, and they both hold degrees from the University of St Andrews.
Dr Hill received her undergraduate degree from the University, later gaining a Masters and PhD from Harvard, and has become a pivotal figure in international politics, renowned for her expertise on Russia and Europe. She was present for the INF treaty signing by Gorbachev and Raegan, and in a book she co-wrote, Dr Hill stressed how Putin’s KGB career shaped his worldview. Dr Hill served as an intelligence analyst under the administrations of George Bush and Barack Obama. President Trump appointed her as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs on his National Security Council staff. She stepped down from this role in August.
Mr Holmes received his masters from St Andrews before joining the United States Foreign Service serving around the world and in Washington DC as special assistant for South and Central America. Holmes later was appointed to the Nationals Security Council as director for Afghanistan before his appointment as senior energy officer then later the Deputy and Internal unit Chief in the political section of the United States Embassy in Moscow
The hearings have become appointment to view television. Twelve witnesses have given 40 hours of testimony. The inquiry centres on a whistle-blower who suggested that Trump improperly sought help from Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter. Pressuring a foreign power to help win an election, here through damaging information on a potential challenger, is illegal. Whilst a vote to impeach only requires a simple majority to pass, after a trial two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict.
Dr Hill labelled Moscow’s message, that Ukraine meddled in in the election, a “fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.” She went on to state that Russia was the foreign power that attacked their democracy in 2016. Mr Holmes went on to blame Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York one of Trump’s personal attorneys, for pushing a political agenda. Moreover, Holmes believes the withholding of security assistance for Ukraine was a consequence of them not agreeing to the Burisma-Biden investigation. This is significant as Ukraine continues to fight Russian backed separatists in Donbass, following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.
Central to the inquiry has been the actions of the US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Dr Hill noted having “testy encounters” with him over Ukraine. She had criticised him for not feeding back information from all of his meetings. Dr Hill has received acclaim for stating: “I was actually, to be honest, angry with him. And I hate to say it but often when women show anger it’s not fully appreciated, it’s often pushed off onto emotional issues, perhaps, or deflected on other people.” Mr Holmes chronicled overhearing a phone call between Sondland and President Trump, he heard the President state seeking “the investigation” into Biden and his son.
However, whilst these hearings have somewhat helped quench an insatiable thirst for drama, little persuasive evidence on top of that which was leaked has come out. The Democrat controlled house may vote to impeach; however, the Republican majority senate will likely clear him.
St Andrews has become the focus of national and international politics. Alum Alex Salmond has appeared in court accused of sexual assaults on 10 women, these include rape. On a UK level, ITV’s Mary Nightingale presented live and Hugo Rifkind of the Times reported upon the marginality of the North East Fife constituency. On a European level, the Economics and Finance lecturer Clara Ponsati, after serving under the former Catalan government of Puidgemont, is having her arrest warrant for sedition challenged in Scottish courts. Now in North America, St Andrews alums are testifying on the President’s potentially illegal behaviour.