Fiona Hill, the scholar and nonpartisan foreign policy expert who has served under Republican and Democratic presidents, and who witnessed John Bolton call a meeting to an end after Gordon Sondland started talking about a quid pro quo, criticized Republicans in her opening statement for pushing Russian propaganda.
She called the idea that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election "a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves." She said "it is beyond dispute" that "Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions," not Ukraine. She said that the United States "is being torn apart" by this bullshit, and that "we are running out of time" to stop Russia from damaging us again.
"I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests," she added. "These fictions are harmful... When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other, degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy." Watch video of these remarks below—beginning with her comments about her childhood in a part of England where George Washington's ancestors came from.
The relevant part begins at the 5:01 mark, when she talks about the damage that conspiracy theorists in Congress (like Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan) are doing to this country. Here's a transcript:
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.
The impact of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today. Our nation is being torn apart. Truth is questioned. Our highly professional and expert career foreign service is being undermined.
U.S. support for Ukraine—which continues to face armed Russian aggression—has been politicized.
The Russian government’s goal is to weaken our country—to diminish America’s global role and to neutralize a perceived U.S. threat to Russian interests. President Putin and the Russian security services aim to counter U.S. foreign policy objectives in Europe, including in Ukraine, where Moscow wishes to reassert political and economic dominance.
I say this not as an alarmist, but as a realist. I do not think long-term conflict with Russia is either desirable or inevitable. I continue to believe that we need to seek ways of stabilizing our relationship with Moscow even as we counter their efforts to harm us. 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.
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.
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 other, degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy.
I respect the work that this Congress does in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities, including in this inquiry, and I am here to help you to the best of my ability. If the President, or anyone else, impedes or subverts the national security of the United States in order to further domestic political or personal interests, that is more than worthy of your attention. But we must not let domestic politics stop us from defending ourselves against the foreign powers who truly wish us harm.
Already the White House is pretending that Hill said the opposite of what she actually said.
White House: "Schiff and Congressional Democrats Are Playing Right into Russia’s Hands...Fiona Hill warned today that it is Russia’s goal to delegitimize the President of the United States. "
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) November 21, 2019