Ambassador Fiona Hill was kicking ass and taking names in her opening statement today. The Ambassador called out Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee — lookin’ right at you Rep. Devin Nunes — as shills for the Russian intelligence agencies’ “dezinformatsiya” and propaganda. That they are!
From Ambassador Fiona Hill’s take no prisoners opening statement (excerpt):
This relates to the second thing I want to communicate.
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. policy objectives in Europe, including in Ukraine, where Moscow wishes to reassert political and economic dominance.
I say this not as an alarmist, but s a realist. I do not thing 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 agencies 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 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.
Nevertheless, he persisted. Devin Nunes continued to return to the debunked conspiracy theories that Russian intelligence agencies, and their ancillaries in the conservative media entertainment complex, in particular FOX News aka Trump TV, have been pushing for years. They have much to answer for.
UPDATE: Republicans on the Committee keep dismissing the evidence of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in the Mueller report as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.” The Moscow Project:
On April 18, 2019, a redacted copy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election” (Mueller Report) was released to the public. The Mueller report builds on the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that there were two campaigns to elect Donald Trump— one run by Trump and one run by the Russian government. The Mueller report clearly identified collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, despite repeated denials from Trump and many of his senior advisers and close associates that there were any connections between the two campaigns.
A total of 272 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia-linked operatives have been identified, including at least 38 meetings. And we know that at least 33 high-ranking campaign officials and Trump advisers were aware of contacts with Russia-linked operatives during the campaign and transition, including Trump himself. None of these contacts were ever reported to the proper authorities. Instead, the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them.
Beyond the many lies the Trump team told to the American people, Mueller himself repeatedly remarked on how far the Trump team was willing to go to hide their Russian contacts, stating, “the investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference.”
Republicans on the Committee would have Americans forget these inconvenient truths in their attempt to create an alternate reality.
UPDATE: In her opening statement, Ambassador Hill also took a jab at her former boss, former national security adviser John Bolton, who has so far refused to testify in the impeachment inquiry.
“I believe that those who have information that the Congress deems relevant have a legal and moral obligation to provide it,” she testified.
This applies to all the Trump administration officials who have refused to testify at the direction of the president.
UPDATE: Confirming Ambassador Hill’s warning, at an economic forum in Moscow on Wednesday, Putin remarked that he’s pleased that “political battles” in the United States have distracted from Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
“Thank God,” he told the gathering, “no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore; now they’re accusing Ukraine.”
Good job, Republicans.