The Slatest

White House’s Former Top Russia Expert Calls Out GOP’s Pushing of Ukraine Conspiracy Theories

Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Europe and Russia, arrives to testify in the impeachment inquiry.
Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Europe and Russia, arrives to testify in the impeachment inquiry on Thursday in Washington.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House’s former top Russia expert, Fiona Hill, takes the stage in the impeachment hearings Thursday morning. Though Hill left her post in July, days before the infamous July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president, she is a key witness in that she was present for a number of early meetings and discussions about the Ukraine quid pro quo, which she described in closed-door testimony as “pretty blatant.” In her post as senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council, Hill supervised Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and can speak to his testimony and job performance. Vindman’s work has been called into question by Hill’s successor in the post, Tim Morrison, as part of the Republican pushback to Vindman’s damning testimony. Hill also directly reported to former national security adviser John Bolton and is seen as a window into Bolton’s thinking and potential testimony.

In Hill’s opening statement, she took a direct shot at the Republicans on the committee—and one big orange one in the White House—that have mounted a muddling justification for Trump’s actions based on the false narrative around Ukraine’s made up role in the 2016 election. It’s a play taken directly from the Kremlin’s propaganda playbook and Hill explicitly says so.

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

“The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies, confirmed in bipartisan Congressional reports. It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified,” Hill said in her opening statement. “As Republicans and Democrats have agreed for decades, Ukraine is a valued partner of the United States, and it plays an important role in our national security. And as I told this Committee last month, I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary, and that Ukraine—not Russia—attacked us in 2016.”