Fiona Hill, former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia, said at the House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearing on Thursday that she understands Trump’s concern about Ukrainian efforts against him during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) began his questioning of Hill by repeating her earlier testimony that the idea that Ukraine interfered in the election is a “fictional narrative.”
“I brought with me two exhibits that I was pointed to by your colleagues during the deposition that I gave on Oct. 14,” Hill said. “I’m grateful they pointed me in this direction.”
One of those “exhibits” was an op-ed written by then-Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Valeriy Chaly and published in The Hill newspaper.
“So this is during the presidential campaign when President Trump was then the nominee for the Republican Party,” Hill said, adding the Chaly was “critical of President Trump.”
Himes tried to justify that criticism by saying the Trump had made negative comments about Crimea.
“To be honest the whole article is actually about Ukraine and this is a classic standard for anyone who wants to write an op-ed,” Hill said. “I’ve written plenty myself — you pick a peg and proceed to say what you want to say.”
Himes continued to criticize Trump and then asked if Hill thought the editorial represented interfering with the election as Trump has claimed.
“I would say that it’s probably not the most advisable thing to do for an ambassador because you never know who’s going to win,” Hill said.
Hill then cited the second article she was shown, one written by journalist Kenneth Vogel in 2017.
“Mr. Vogel points out that the Ukrainian government, again, you know, they wouldn’t have done very well at the bookies picking up the issue I pointed out in the beginning of today,” Hill said. “They bet on the wrong horse.”
“They bet on Hillary Clinton winning the election,” Hill said. “And so, you know, they were trying to curry favor with the Clinton campaign.”
“It’s quite evident here,” Hill claimed, adding that even though Ukraine did make an effort to get information about the Trump campaign, including about former campaign manager Paul Manafort, it didn’t represent a “top-down effort” such as was the case in Russian election meddling.
“I also mentioned in my deposit of October 14th that, in fact, many officials from many countries, including Ukraine, bet on the wrong horse,” Hill said. “They believed that Secretary Clinton, former Senator Clinton, former first lady Clinton, was going to win and many said some pretty disparaging and hurtful things about President Trump.”
“And I can’t blame him for feeling aggrieved about them,” Hill said, adding that she would “take offense at some of the things that were said if I was the president.”
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