Former National Security Council staffer Fiona Hill will call Ukrainian 2016 election interference “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves” in her testimony Wednesday, according to a pre-released copy of her opening statement.
“The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016,” Hill’s statement reads. “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,” the statement continues.
House Republicans have routinely touted Ukrainian election interference as proof that President Trump’s skepticism in handing over aid to the new Ukrainian regime under Volodymyr Zelensky was justified.
During his opening statement on Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) accused the media of being “puppets of the Democratic Party” and pointed to the questioning of independent journalist John Solomon, who has reported extensively on Ukrainian influence in U.S. domestic politics.
“Since the Democrats switched from Russia to Ukraine for their impeachment crusade, Solomon’s reporting on Burisma, Hunter Biden, and Ukrainian election meddling has become inconvenient for the Democratic narrative, and so the media is furiously smearing and libeling Solomon,” Nunes said.
Republicans have also repeatedly cited a January 2017 article from Politico titled “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire,” which cites examples of Ukrainian officials attempting to sabotage the Trump campaign.
“Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found,” the article states.
In pushing back on this narrative, Democrats have emphasized President Trump’s endorsement of the unproved Ukrainian “Crowdstrike” theory, which holds that Ukrainian hackers, posing as Russians, interfered in the U.S. election to stoke tensions between the two powers. And they have avoided addressing, or have downplayed, the Ukrainian bureaucrats’ efforts to support Clinton’s election campaign detailed in the Politico article.
In her testimony, Hill also warns of 2020 Russian election interference. “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,” her testimony states. “In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”
During her initial closed-door deposition in October, Hill testified that she worked with Christopher Steele, the former British spy contracted by the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS to produce the infamous Steele Dossier, from 2006 to 2009, but doubted the accuracy of his dossier when it was published in January 2017.
“I don’t believe it’s appropriate for him to have been hired to do this,” Hill said of Steele’s contract with Fusion GPS, “I almost fell over when I discovered that he was doing this report.”