The Trump Administration’s former top Russia expert just gave powerful testimony to the House impeachment inquiry which strongly condemned the top Republican argument supporting Trump’s false claims that he was just “fighting corruption” in Ukraine.
Dr. Fiona Hill is a widely respected nonpartisan scholar and diplomat who is considered one of America’s top authorities on Russia and served in the Trump White House from April 2017 until only days before the President asked Ukraine’s leader for a “favor” in the infamous phone call that ultimately touched off an impeachment inquiry.
When Dr. Hill released her opening statement for this morning’s House Intelligence Committee public impeachment hearing, it set off an immediate buzz. She sharply and forcefully obliterated days’ worth of distractions pushed by House Republicans at the nationally televised proceedings. Here are several excerpts of her opening remarks (video below):
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.
Right now, Russia’s security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election. We are running out of time to stop them.
In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.
These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes. President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a Super PAC.
They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives. When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each another, degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy.
While Dr. Fiona Hill is nonpartisan, she’s not blind to what has been happening in American politics, and her description of “SuperPAC Russia” is a perfect description of how their actions quite openly helped President Trump in 2016.
It’s a revealing moniker that should trouble Republicans because some of their SuperPACs got significant help from a Russian-American oligarch who is business partners with one of Putin’s top allies, to whom Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has given unusual support.
Ranking member Devin Nunes (R-CA) took the unusual step of responding to Dr. Hill’s prepared opening remarks by name before she could even deliver them in the room in his opening statement, by entering a copy of last year’s House Intelligence Committee report into the record and handing it to Hill and foreign service officer David Holmes. Last year when it came out, former CIA Director John Brennan called the report Nunes touted “a highly partisan, incomplete, and deeply flawed report by a broken House Committee” that “means nothing.”
Another part of Dr. Hill’s testimony must’ve personally stung Rep. Nunes because she highlighted former House Intelligence counsel Kash Patel’s role in misadvising the President.
Fiona Hill testifies that Trump thought Kash Patel was in charge of Ukraine matters at the NSC. Vindman was in charge of Ukraine though, she said. Meaning it seemed Patel — a recently former Nunes staffer — was delivering Ukraine info straight to Trump.
— Karoun Demirjian (@karoun) November 21, 2019
Hill’s appearance alongside Holmes—who delivered his firsthand testimony about President Trump’s demands for Ukrainian investigations into the Bidens—yielded an astonishing amount of gravitas inside the room as the hearing unfolded, and her preemptive attack on the House Republicans’ weak talking points visibly changed the tenor of their questioning which has been tamer than earlier hearings.
But her points about the fictional narratives that President Putin and the Russian security services are pushing are absolutely blood-chilling, in the same way, that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s comment about their election interference at a public hearing this summer that, “They’re doing it while we sit here.”
House Republicans haven’t put up a serious defense against the facts of anything that President Trump did to withhold diplomatic support and hundreds of millions in security aid from Ukraine in exchange for the political favors he demanded, and Dr. Hill’s testimony firmly slamming the door on the worst of their spin.
Here’s a video excerpt of Dr. Fiona Hill’s opening remarks:
Read the complete opening statement here:
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Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition