Fiona Hill Biography and Profile

Fiona Hill Biography

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Fiona Hill Early Life

Fiona Hill, born 01 October, 1965, was President Donald Trump’s former top Russia adviser. In 2017, she joined the Trump administration as senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council, the elite cluster of advisers who guide the president on foreign policy. Remember Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified earlier this week? Hill was his boss. Though the decision “strained friendships and made her a target of right-wing conspiracy theorists who spread rumors that she was a Democratic mole,” as the Times notes, Hill appears to have fallen into the category of experts who joined the administration out of a sense of civic duty, going “to work for the president thinking they might be the proverbial ‘adults in the room.’”

According to The Washington Post, Hill’s relationship with Trump got off to a rocky start. During a meeting prepping for a call with Putin, Trump mistook Hill for a member of his clerical staff and instructed her to rewrite a memo, which led Hill to respond with a “perplexed look,” officials recounted to the newspaper. Trump was irritated by the exchange and told then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster to intervene, the Post reported.


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Hill accompanied Trump to the 2017 G20 meeting, though she was left out of Trump’s first formal meeting with Putin. The Post reported in January that Hill had sought more information beyond a readout of the meeting, which Trump had instructed his interpreter not to speak about and had taken the interpreter’s notes. And she traveled with Trump to Helsinki lin 2018 for his infamous summit with Putin, where he appeared to side with the Russian strongman over his US intelligence community.

Who is Fiona Hill?

Fiona Hill, born 1 October, 1965, in northern England. She declares to be a non-partisan Russia expert. When the local mines closed in the 1960s, Fiona Hill father, who “loved America, its culture, its history and its role as a beacon of hope,” had dreams of emigrating to the US, but stayed in England to care for his mother, who was in poor health. Hailing from the market town of Bishop Auckland in County Durham, Ms Hill noted that “both the region and my family have deep ties to the United States.”

“I was born… in the same region George Washington’s ancestors came from… My paternal grandfather fought through World War I in the Royal Field Artillery, surviving being shot, shelled, and gassed before American troops intervened to end the war in 1918,” she said.

While her father was unable to realise his “dream of emigrating to America”, she said he had always hoped that someone in the family would make the move.

“When my father, Alfred, was 14, he joined his father, brother, uncles and cousins in the coal mines to help put food on the table,” she explained.

Fiona Hill also confirmed an anecdote that had been reported by The New York Times that when she was 11, a school boy in her class set fire to one of her pigtails while she was taking a test. She put the fire out with her hands and continued finishing the exam. Hill said the incident resulted in her mother giving her a bowl haircut and joked that she ended up looking like King Richard III in her school pictures.

“It had some very unfortunate consequences. Afterwards, my mother gave me a bowl haircut. So for the school photograph… I looked like Richard III,” Fiona joked.

During the 90s, Fiona Hill held a number of roles directing research at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, while she completed a master’s in Soviet studies and a doctorate in history.

Education

During an academic exchange in the then Soviet Union, she met an American professor who told her about graduate scholarships to the US. It was on an academic exchange to the Soviet Union, where she saw US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, that convinced her to head to America. Russian-speaking Ms Hill went on to obtain degrees from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and Harvard University, where she received a doctorate in history.

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US Citizen

Ms Hill, who became a US citizen in 2002, says the country has offered her opportunities she “would never have had” in England.

Hill made clear that America: “has offered for me opportunities I never would have had in England.” She said she “grew up poor with a very distinctive working-class accent” that would have “impeded my professional advancement” in England.

“I am an American by choice,” said Hill, who became a naturalized US citizen in 2002.

Russia Analyst

Fiona Hill, a Harvard-educated former intelligence officer who covered Russia and Eurasia under former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama; a fellow, and later a director, at the Brookings Institute, who literally wrote the book on Vladimir Putin: Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, a 520-page tome analyzing the Russian leader’s psyche. She took a break from the think-tank world to serve as a national intelligence officer from early 2006 to late 2009. She took another leave from the Brookings Institution in early 2017 to join the National Security Council at the start of the Trump administration, a decision that raised eyebrows at the time.

Fiona Hill built her reputation on her insights into Russian President Vladimir Putin and her clear-eyed view of the threats posed by Russia, yet she went to work for a president who discounted Russian election interference and appeared to believe in Putin’s good intentions.

Ms. Hill holds an M.A. in Russian and modern history from St. Andrews University in Scotland. She earned an A.M. degree in Soviet Studies and a Ph.D. in history at Harvard University.

Working For Donald Trump

Fiona Hill official title was senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council, which is in the White House. Though the decision “strained friendships and made her a target of right-wing conspiracy theorists who spread rumors that she was a Democratic mole,” as the Times notes, Hill appears to have fallen into the category of experts who joined the administration out of a sense of civic duty, going “to work for the president thinking they might be the proverbial ‘adults in the room.’”

“I thought I could help…with President Trump’s stated goal of improving relations with Russia,” Hill testified.

Despite her best efforts, Hill reportedly said in closed-door testimony in October that her time in the Trump administration ended up being “my worst nightmare.”

Donald Trump Scandal: Fiona Hill Bombshell Testimony

According to the New York Times, Ms Hill’s decision to accept a role in the NSC in 2017 “strained friendships and made her a target of right-wing conspiracy theorists who spread rumours that she was a Democratic mole”. Ms Hill told the inquiry that when she accepted the position she thought she could help with Mr Trump’s “stated goal of improving relations with Russia, while still implementing policies designed to deter Russian conduct that threatens the United States”. But, she said, the president disregarded the advice of senior advisers who said Russia had meddled in the 2016 election, instead listening to the views of his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and pushing a false theory that it was Ukraine.

In November 2019, she became a key witness in the impeachment hearings before the Intelligence Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Fiona Hill is important because she witnessed or heard about key early events, including a July 10 meeting between national security officials, Trump’s point person on Ukraine and Ukrainian officials at the White House. But she also is a proxy for one of the people Democrats most want to testify: former national security adviser John Bolton. She reported to him directly.

Hill testified about what she witnessed inside the White House as two men — Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — carried out the policy of an unconventional president.

In closed-door testimony, Hill testified that she spent an “inordinate amount of time” at the White House trying to coordinate with Sondland, whose donation to Trump’s inauguration preceded his appointment as ambassador to the EU. She said it dawned on her while watching Sondland’s testimony the day before that he wasn’t coordinating with her because their missions had diverged. Hill said Sondland “was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy.”

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Sondland testified Wednesday that Trump and Giuliani sought a quid pro quo with Ukraine, and that he was under orders from the president to help make it happen. He said Trump wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce investigations of Democrats before he would agree to welcome him at the White House. As the push progressed, Trump also held up nearly $400 million in military aid that Ukraine was counting on to fend off Russian aggression.

Hill’s authoritative testimony appeared to flummox Republicans defending Trump. After she shared her new reading of Sondland in the afternoon session, few asked her further questions and instead used their time to make their own points.

In her closed testimony, she described Sondland as a counterintelligence risk because of his use of a personal cellphone, including in Ukraine, where the networks are easily hacked by Russia.

Sondland called Trump on his cellphone from a restaurant in Kyiv on July 26, the day after Trump had spoken with Zelenskiy. David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Kyiv, was sitting across the table and said he overheard Trump ask whether the Ukrainian president was going to do the investigations and Sondland tell him that he would. Holmes also testified on Thursday.

Unlike Sondland, who explained discrepancies in his testimony by saying he doesn’t take notes, Hill is a meticulous note-taker. She says it was a habit she learned from the first grade because her town was so poor that pupils didn’t have textbooks.

In her opening statement Thursday, she said her working-class accent would have impeded her in England in the 1980s and 1990s, but her poor background has never set her back in America, where she has lived since earning her doctorate at Harvard. She said her father, a coal miner since the age of 14, had dreamed of immigrating to the U.S. and always wanted someone in the family to make it to the country he saw as a “beacon of hope in the world.” Hill became an American citizen in 2002.

She was asked about a story she tells friends from when she was 11, when a boy in her class set one of her pigtails on fire while she was taking a test. She extinguished the fire with her hands and finished the test. Hill said she tells the story because of its “unfortunate consequences.” Afterward, her mother gave her a bowl haircut, and she “looked like Richard III.”

Hill left the administration about a week before the July 25 call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden, Biden’s son and a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election. She learned the details only when the White House released a rough transcript in September and said she was shocked.

“I sat in an awful lot of calls, and I have not seen anything like this,” she said.

But the call did not come out of the blue. It was an outgrowth of a July 10 meeting of U.S. and Ukrainian officials at the White House that Hill witnessed and described to lawmakers in vivid detail.

Hill said Sondland “blurted out” that he and Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, had worked out a deal for Ukraine’s president to visit the White House in exchange for opening the investigations. Her boss, national security adviser John Bolton, “immediately stiffened” and ended the meeting.

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When Sondland led the Ukrainians to a room downstairs in the White House to continue the discussions, Bolton sent Hill to “find out what they’re talking about.” As she walked in, Sondland was trying to set up the meeting between the two presidents and mentioned Giuliani. Hill cut him off.

She reported back to Bolton, who told her to tell an NSC lawyer what she had heard and to make clear that “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this.”

Sondland on Wednesday pushed back on Hill’s account. He said he doesn’t remember the meeting being cut short and denied that by carrying out Trump’s Ukraine policy he was engaging in “some kind of rogue diplomacy.”

Hill testified that she was frustrated by Sondland, particularly over his casual use of cellphones. He not only used his to call Trump and foreign officials, but he was also giving out her number as well. Officials from Europe would appear at the gates of the White House and call her personal phone, which was kept in a lockbox. She would later find messages from irate officials who had been told by Sondland that they could meet with her.

She is sensitive to security risks. While writing a book on Putin published in 2013, she said her phone and Brookings’ computer system were repeatedly hacked.

During her deposition, Hill’s temper flared when asked about conspiracy theories, including those espoused by Trump and his allies, seeking to deny Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. The reason she joined the Trump administration, she said, was because the U.S. is “in peril as a democracy” as a result of interference by Russians and others.

She said Thursday that the questions so unnerved her that she devoted much of her opening statement to addressing the Russia threat. Hill sends the clear message that Ukraine is not the enemy, but a country still under threat by Russia, and one that got tangled up in the alleged quid pro quo cooked up by Trump and Giuliani as they tried to undercut Joe Biden. Hill said the theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for the 2016 election interference “is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

And the Russians are gearing up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election. “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.”

Fiona Hill Last Word

“I would watch an [eight-]episode series that follows Fiona Hill around as she does mundane daily tasks,” former Jeb Bush staffer Tim Miller tweeted on Thursday. The Kristin Scott Thomas lookalike has been called a “boss” and a “baller” on Twitter, in part because of her steely composure, but also because of her astounding bio and triumphant American story: the daughter of a coal miner, she testified that she “grew up poor with a very distinctive working-class accent.” But “this background has never set me back in America.” On the contrary, Hill has now cemented her place in history.

Fiona Hill Biography and Profile

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