Fiona Hill, former top adviser on Russia who resigned shortly before Ukraine call, has written first-rate book about Putin’s formative experiences, worldview, and rise to power

I was most interested to learn that Fiona Hill will be appearing behind closed doors in Congress.

I have previously written about her work; I have been much impressed with her overview of Putin’s formative experiences, and what such experiences tell us about contemporary events involving Russia.

Click here for previous posts about Fiona Hill >

Relevant posts in the above-noted list of posts include:

Trump / Russia: A Definitive History (2018): An apt companion piece to Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (2015)
An exemplary study in story management: Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (2015)

Mr. Putin (2015) illustrates that story management is possible even in the absence of evidence-based biographical details

Hill had advocated tough U.S. approach on Moscow

An Oct. 14, 2019 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Trump’s former adviser on Russia testifies in impeachment inquiry.”

An excerpt reads:

The British-born Hill, who left her White House job shortly before the July 25 call but remained on the payroll into August, had advocated a tough U.S. approach on Moscow even as Trump was more accommodating toward Russian President Vladimir Putin. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election with a campaign of hacking and propaganda intended to boost Trump’s candidacy.

An Oct. 14, 2019 Guardian article is entitled: “Fiona Hill testifies about Trump’s decision to oust ambassador to Ukraine.”

An excerpt reads:

As the first former White House aide to testify in the impeachment inquiry, Hill could be in a position to describe internal, and apparently heated, conversations among diplomats and security officials that led to Yovanovitch’s departure.

A Russia expert fluent in the language, Hill was a senior official at the Washington-based Brookings institution before joining the Trump administration. She announced her resignation in June, before the July phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy, and left the White House in August.

‘Such attacks have become a routine form of intimidation’

An Oct. 14, 2019 Guardian article is entitled: “Fiona Hill: British-born Russia expert drawn into impeachment storm: The former National Security Council official saw the struggle over US policy on Moscow and Trump’s special bond with Putin.”

An excerpt reads:

Hill was born in Bishop Auckland, Durham, the daughter of a miner and a nurse, and became a dual national after marrying an American she met at Harvard. She still speaks with flat northern English vowels.

The American chapter in her life opened quite by chance. After winning a scholarship to St Andrews University, she was in Moscow during the 1988 Reagan-Gorbachev summit and got an internship making coffee for the NBC Today Show. There, she met an American professor who suggested she apply for postgraduate studies at Harvard.

Since it became clear Hill would be an important witness in the House impeachment hearings, she has been subjected to furious attack on hard-right talkshows and conspiracy theories on social media, some pointing to the fact that she knows Christopher Steele, the author of the famous 2016 dossier alleging Trump’s collusion with the Kremlin, from a previous stint in government, in the National Intelligence Council.

Such attacks have become a routine form of intimidation aimed at stopping officials like Hill saying what they know about the inner workings of the Trump White House.

Updates

Nov. 21, 2019 New Yorker

A Nov. 21, 2019 New Yorker article is entitled: “The Extraordinary Impeachment Testimony of Fiona Hill.”

An excerpt reads:

Hill, who appeared at the Longworth House Office Building, on Thursday morning, didn’t appear to be nervous at all, and why should she have been? At Harvard, she earned a Ph.D. in Russian history. In 2002, she became an American citizen. For many years, she has been a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, in Washington. From 2006 to 2009, she served as the senior expert on Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council, an internal think tank for U.S. intelligence agencies. In 2013, she and Clifford G. Gaddy, an economist at Brookings, published “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin,” which a reviewer at Foreign Affairs described as the single book about Putin that is most useful to policymakers. In 2017, Hill was named the senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council, where she served as a deputy to H. R. McMaster and John Bolton.

Nov. 24, 2019 New Yorker

A Nov. 24, 2019 New Yorker article is entitled: “Malcolm Nance on the Danger of Conspiracy Theories.”

An excerpt reads:

You have written and spoken a lot about Russian disinformation campaigns. How important is it to the Russian government to disseminate untruths and make sure the public square is full of speculation and misinformation?

What the American public has seen play out since 2016 is critical to their strategy, and it really started far, far before that, in a large way, in 2014. You are watching a strategic plan that’s being executed by Russia. None of this is piecemeal; none of this is small-time – it is a long ball game. And they need to use disinformation because, you have to realize, their leader is an ex-K.G.B. officer who used extensive amounts of disinformation that was developed by the K.G.B. And then, when he trained to be the head of Russian Intelligence, he realized all of those old K.G.B. tactics and strategies and techniques were applicable in the real world. But now technology had caught up to where they could be effective, whereas they were never effective in the past. So a person with a laptop can be just as powerful as the New York Times, but with the old disinformation strategies and tactics, which would attack the fault lines of the American experiment. And so it’s very critical to the Russians. One third of the American public refuses to believe the U.S. news media, but we’ll believe propaganda generated by the Russian Federation intelligence agencies.

Nov. 26, 2019 Lawfare

A Nov. 26, 2019 Lawfare article is entitled: “We Wrote a Starr Report! An Account of the Record in L’Affaire Ukrainienne.”

An excerpt reads:

Hill immediately reported back to Bolton, who told her to tell NSC legal counsel John Eisenberg that Bolton was “not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this, and you go tell him what you’ve heard and what I’ve said.” Hill briefly met with Eisenberg later that day and again the following day. She relayed the details of the meeting to Eisenberg along with her concerns that the Ukrainians had been inside “the secure spaces of the White House” because of the unusual room in which Sondland had arranged for the breakout group to meet – arrangements that Hill reports were made through Mulvaney’s office. According to Hill, Eisenberg shared Hill’s account of the meeting with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. Vindman also reported the incident to Eisenberg separately.

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