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Fiona Hill: GOP members are doing Russia a favor with ‘fictional narrative’ about Ukraine meddling

Fiona Hill: GOP members are doing Russia a favor with ‘fictional narrative’ about Ukraine meddling
Fiona Hill, formerly the top Russia expert on the National Security Council, arrives to testify during the House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, November 21, 2019. [Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images]

In testifying before the House impeachment inquiry Thursday, former White House adviser Fiona Hill criticized Republicans for promoting a “fictional narrative” that Ukraine, not Russia, is meddling in the U.S. elections.

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The problem with that story is that it’s not only untrue, she said, but that it benefits Russia as President Vladimir Putin seeks to undermine the U.S. and boost his own country’s power internationally, including in Ukraine, where Russia effectively annexed Crimea in 2014.

“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,” Hill said in her opening statement. “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.”

While President Trump and Republicans in Congress have at times questioned whether Russia was really behind hacking and propaganda efforts leading up to the 2016 election, intelligence officials have generally been unanimous in saying the Russian efforts, largely supporting Trump, were real. Devin Nunes, the California congressman who is the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has recently pushed the argument that Ukraine was the real meddling force in the election.

“Once you understand that Ukrainian officials were cooperating directly with President Trump’s political opponents to undermine his candidacy, it’s easy to understand why the president would want to learn the full truth about these operations and why he would be skeptical of Ukraine,” he said in a hearing Wednesday, the Washington Post reports.

The Ukrainian meddling story has not been supported by any public intelligence reports, and critics say it’s a way for Trump to cast doubt on allegations that he held up military aid for Ukraine to pressure the country to investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s involvement with a Ukrainian company. The Ukrainian allegations effectively benefit Putin’s Russia in two ways, by undermining U.S. support for Ukraine and distracting from the proven threat from Russia’s own election manipulation, Hill argued.

“Right now, Russia’s security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election,” Hill warned in her statement. “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.”

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