A pillar of the Republican defense of President Trump during the impeachment inquiry has been that he had good reason to believe that Ukraine intervened against him during the 2016 presidential election — and that he therefore was justified in demanding that the new Ukrainian government investigate. That made the testimony Thursday of Fiona Hill, who served Mr. Trump as the National Security Council’s senior director for Europe and Russia for more than two years, particularly important. Ms. Hill, one of the nation’s top authorities on the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, warned that the Ukraine intervention narrative was not only “fictional” but also potentially damaging to U.S. national security.
U.S. intelligence agencies, the Senate Intelligence Committee and former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III have all found that Russia meddled in the 2016 election in support of Mr. Trump. But the president and some of his more fanatical followers, such as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), have clung to the idea that the intervention came from Ukraine, and that it was aimed against Mr. Trump. Mr. Putin himself has echoed the Republican arguments. “Thank God no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore,” he said Wednesday. “Now they’re accusing Ukraine.”
This false narrative, Ms. Hill bluntly declared, “has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.” It is dangerous not only because it clouds the truth of what happened in 2016. It has also had the effect of weakening and politicizing U.S. support for Ukraine, which Russia still seeks to dominate. It facilitates what Ms. Hill said is Russia’s intention to intervene in the 2020 election. [Continue reading…]