Updated at 3:19 p.m. ET on November 21, 2019.
Through four long days of impeachment hearings, witness after witness sat passively by as Republican lawmakers responded to their detailed testimony by arguing that President Donald Trump had a legitimate reason to be suspicious of Ukraine, because he believed that the country “tried to take me down” in 2016.
That silence from the witness table ended this morning, as Fiona Hill used her opening statement before the House Intelligence Committee to accuse Republicans on the panel of peddling a “false narrative” that amounted to Russian propaganda.
“Based on questions and statements I have heard, 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, for some reason, Ukraine did,” Hill, the former top expert for Ukraine and Russia on the National Security Council, told the lawmakers. “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”
Hill warned in stark terms that Russia is already preparing its efforts to interfere in the 2020 election, and suggested that it had succeeded in sowing discord in the United States. “Our nation is being torn apart,” she said. “Truth is questioned. Our highly professional and expert career Foreign Service is being undermined. U.S. support for Ukraine—which continues to face armed Russian aggression—has been politicized.
The Russian government’s goal is to weaken our country, to diminish America’s global role, and to neutralize a perceived U.S. threat to Russian interests.”