A former National Security Council (NSC) official who testified that then-President Donald Trump tried to make use of the Ukrainian authorities for a “domestic political errand” has dismissed the idea the Kremlin had damaging details about the forty fifth president it used to extract concessions from him.
“What Putin had on Trump is what everybody else had—recognition of his extreme vulnerability to manipulation,” Fiona Hill instructed The Daily Beast in an interview revealed Monday.
The concept that Trump was uniquely weak to blackmail by Moscow took root even earlier than his inauguration, when BuzzFeed News revealed the now-infamous file compiled by ex-MI6 spook Christopher Steele. Among the file’s many salacious claims: that Russian intelligence had a video of Trump paying prostitutes to urinate on the mattress within the presidential suite on the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow.
The idea gained traction after Trump met Putin in Helsinki, Finland in 2018. At a joint information convention following the summit, the US president declined to accuse Russia of interfering within the 2016 election marketing campaign, telling reporters that Putin had stated “it’s not Russia” and including: “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
The British-born Hill, who handled European and Russian affairs on the NSC, recalled to the Daily Beast that previous to the Helsinki summit, Trump had requested her if she thought Putin would love him.
“I never had the time to answer before he was on to something else,” she stated, including that the then-president had “autocrat envy” and was “a counter-intelligence and national security risk because he was so vulnerable to manipulation based on the fragility of his ego.”
“Anyone could induce him to do something by raising the specter of someone insulting him—or by praising him,” Hill went on. “His ideology was idolatry.”
Hill was launched into the general public eye late in 2019, when she testified earlier than the House Intelligence Committee throughout its investigation of whether or not Trump wrongfully pressured Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to research then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, his son Hunter and the latter’s work for Ukrainian vitality firm Burisma.
During her testimony, Hill recalled that then-National Security Adviser John Bolton turned incensed after studying that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani had taken the lead in conducting a shadow international coverage marketing campaign to steer Ukraine to open the probes Trump needed.
She added that Bolton had instructed her to maintain tabs on the state of affairs and report again to the NSC’s chief lawyer. According to Hill, Bolton had described Giuliani as a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”
As Giuliani ramped up the strain on Kiev, Hill stated Bolton ordered her to boost the matter with White House lawyer John Eisenberg.
“I am not part of whatever drug deal [then-US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon] Sondland and [then-acting White House chief of staff Mick] Mulvaney are cooking up,” she recalled Bolton saying.
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives in January 2020 on two articles: abuse of energy and obstruction of Congress. He was acquitted by the Senate the next month.