WASHINGTON, DC, USA – A former top White House Russia expert testified Thursday that Republicans defending President Donald Trump in impeachment hearings had fallen for a Russian conspiracy theory about Ukraine.
Former National Security Council official Fiona Hill told the fifth day of House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings that the theory that some Republicans and Trump embraced that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 elections is a “fiction” designed by Moscow to wreak havoc in US politics.
“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, Ukraine did,” she said in prepared testimony.
“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”
Trump, a number of witnesses in the impeachment inquiry have said, believed that it was Ukraine and not Russia who meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
They also have claimed that Trump’s Democratic opponents hid a secret computer server controlled by the cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike in Ukraine that would prove the first theory.
No evidence has emerged to support either claim, but Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani pressured Ukraine from early this year to open an investigation into the issue.
In a July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked for a “favor,” saying: “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine,” he said, mentioning Crowdstrike by name.
“The server, they say Ukraine has it.”
Democrats have accused Trump of abusing his power to pressure Ukraine to open investigations that would help his domestic political standing by targeting his Democratic rivals.
Hill told the panel that the Ukraine story is part of a Russian effort to “weaken our country.”
“We are running out of time to stop them,” she said.
“In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”
“These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes.”
“We must not let domestic politics stop us from defending ourselves against the foreign powers who truly wish us harm,” she said. – Rappler.com