Impeachment witness Fiona Hill blows Steele dossier out of the water
Fiona Hill, President Trump's left-leaning former Russia adviser at the National Security Council, has pretty well blown the Steele dossier out of the water. According to the Daily Caller:
A former White House official who [sic] Democrats consider a key witness in their impeachment inquiry told lawmakers in October that she believed Russians likely planted disinformation about President Donald Trump with dossier author Christopher Steele.
Fiona Hill, who served as the White House's top adviser on Russia affairs until July, told lawmakers she was "shocked" to find out that Steele, a former MI6 officer, was the author of the dossier. That's in large part because when she had met with Steele in the years leading up to his dossier work, he was "constantly try to drum up business."
Hill, who was deposed in the impeachment inquiry on Oct. 14, said Steele's eagerness to obtain work made him vulnerable to Russian disinformation.
It was always garbage, and a good Russia expert such as herself could see it immediately.
It was a "rabbit hole." It was the sort of thing that the Russians liked to cook up. It was done to discredit President Trump because she knew they wanted to do that. And its purveyor, former British spy Christopher Steele, was just the right sort of dupe to get the ball rolling, Hill testified. She said as much back in September, too.
That's the takeaway from her deposition last October in her testimony to House impeachment inquiry chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, under questioning from Rep. Jim Jordan.
Same old Fiona Hill — not a liar or spinner, wise to the Russkis, and skeptical, as I argued here.
It makes the people who were believers of the Steele dossier — from the partisan clowns at BuzzFeed to dishonest political schemers like James Comey — look like boobs.
It might just be that this element of the testimony is most valuable as the Horowitz report and the Durham investigation wrap up. Any experienced person who knows about Russia could see that the vaunted Steele dossier was a phony — and not just phony, but a Russian bid to use a gullible, money-hungry dupe like Steele to get the problem out there.
Trump was as much a victim of Russia as supposedly Hillary Clinton was. This ought to shift the focus of the Schiff impeachment query, but don't bet on it. It lays out the reality that Schiff may be revealed as a boob in his zeal to Get Trump, too, given all the nonsense he's desperately trying to string together, just as the Russian hoax crowd (which included him) earlier did.
The full 426-page transcript is here. Here is the long, clunky passage:
MR. JORDAN: Dr. H'i11, was Christopher Steele's dossier a rabbi t hole?
DR. HILL: I thi nk i t was a rabbi t hole.
MR. JORDAN: You think the Russians were trying to influence us and get us to buy into something that was absolutely not true?
DR. HILL: But that was not on any basis once I got into the administration I didn't see that that was a rabbit hole that my former colleagues in the Natjonal Intelligence Council had gone down to. The way that the Russians operate is that they will use whatever conduit they can to put out information that is both real and credible but that also masks a great deal of disinformation. So I've written a book on Vladimir Putin, and if you, you know, have a moment when you want to have a sleep aid, you know, late at night, I've laid all of that out there. And Putjn himself has gone around, you know, claiming there were dossiers on h'im trying to red j rect people to look in other places for i nformati on
[My note: It's not a sleep aid. It's heavy lumber, sure, but it's one of the best Putin books.]
When I was at the Nationat Intelligence Council there was some person who kept constantly writing to us, telling us that we were missing, you know, whole things about, you know, Vladimir Putin, which was clearly, you know, kind of an effort on the part of the Russians to send us down rabbit holes of inquiry that would kind of distract us from looking at the actual issues that we should be rea11y concerned about. And thi s was under the Bush admi ni strati on .
MR. JORDAN: So I j ust want to be c1ear, there was a story done in Politico on you last month. In that reporting it says Steele might have been played by the Russians into spreading disinformation. That's what you think happened wi th
DR. HILL: It's very 1ike1y that the Russians planted disinformation in and among other jnformat"ion that may have been truthful, because that's exactly, again, the way that they operate. And I think everyone should always be cogni zant of that.
MR. J0RDAN: Yeah. So i nformation that Chri stopher 5tee1e was played by the Russians, that information was used, as you well know, by our Justice Department, specifically our FBI, as part of the basis for securing a warrant to spy on an American citizen.
DR. HILL: I think it's already come out that that wasn't exactly the case, that the dossier was basically out there when those investigations had already taken place.
MR. JORDAN: WeIl, that's not accurate. It was part of what was taken
DR. HILL: Wel1, some of the information was that it had come through other ways. But, look, I don't want to also get into, again, a discussion that could go down a ctassified avenue, I just want to te11 you oo, You know, that the Russians
MR. JORDAN: I'm not disPuting that.
DR. HI LL : attacked our democracy . And also, the point that actually hasn't come out and, again, why I've been very cross in the media, is that the Pres'ident waS attacked aS we11, because the Russians sought to discredit him. And I've been very unhappy with the media coverage of all of this, which is why I don't want to start, you know, k'ind of basi cal1y doi ng test'imony by vi rtue of an arti c1e that you've read in Politico. Because everybody wants to sensationalize things, everybody wants to spend time look'ing at the things that seem sexy, and they don't want to actually look at, you know, talk to what the facts are.
MR. JORDAN: I'm not trying to do that. Doctor, te11 me about your relationship with Chri stopher Steele.
DR. HILL: He was my counterpart when I was the director, the national intelligence officer.
JORDAN: And so HI LL: So i nevi tably , when I had to do l'iai son meet'ings wi th the U. K. , he was the person I had to meet wi th.
MR. JORDAN: And so you had a worki ng relat'ionship wi th him for how long? DR. HILL: For the whole period that I was national intelligence officer, so that would be from 2005 to the end of 2009.
MR. J0RDAN: 0kay.
DR. HILL: 5o anybody who was working in the intelligence agencies at the time
MR. JORDAN: I get it.
DR. HILL: -- who was dealing with Russia would have to deal wi th hi m. He reti red as I understand, at the end of 2009.
MR. J0RDAN: The story on you says that you spoke with him in 2015. So can you tel1 me about that conversation? DR. HILL: That was prior to the t'ime that I had any knowledge about the dossier. He was constantly trying to drum up business, and he had contacted me because he wanted to see if I could give him a contact to some other individual, who actually I don't even recal1 now, who he could approach about some business issues. MR. JORDAN: And earlier you said there were all kinds of folks who contacted you from time to tjme wanting to get involved and have contact w'ith various political campaigns. Is Mr. Steele one of those i ndiv'iduals
DR. HILL: He was not.
MR. JORDAN: He was not, okay. And then the same article mentions that yotl, when you were hired, as soon as you were hired you told Mr. McMaster that you had worked with Mr. Steele. Is that right?
DR. HILL: Yes, in the course of my official duties as NIO, because I thought , obvi ously , gi ven the si tuati on , i t would be worth saying that. I also told Ambassador Bolton this as we1I.
MR. J0RDAN: Okay. And you did that based on the fact that Steele was i n the news?
DR. HILL: Correct.
MR. JORDAN: Okay. And you did that after you were hired or before you were hired?
DR. HILL: I mentioned it to General Kellogg when he was i ntervi ewi ng me as well .
MR. JORDAN: 0kay.
DR. HILL: I mean, you can't, you know, choose who you have to interact with.
MR. J0RDAN: No. I just want to know
DR. HILL: And at that point Christopher Steele was the poi nt person for deali ng wi th Russi a.
MR. JORDAN: Great.
MR. ZELDIN: Dr. Hi 11, are you aware of any i nteraction between Mr. Steele and Ukrai n'ians
DR. HILL: - I'm not.
MR. ZELDIN: i nvolved i n the dossier?
DR. HILL: I have no knowledge whatsoever of how he developed that dossier, none, I just want to state that. The first time I saw that dossier was the day before jt was pubtished jn Buzzfeed when a colleague, like it seemed to be about half of Washington, D.C., had it and showed me a copy of i t and I was shocked. And then i t appeared 'in Buzzf eed the next day.
MR. JORDAN: And when you read it you were convinced that it was --
DR. HILL: That was when I expressed the misgivings and concern that he could have been played.
MR. JORDAN : Yep. Okay . Thank you .
DR. HILL: Because if you also think about it, the Russians would have an ax to grind against him given the iob that he had previously. And if he started going back through hjs old contacts and asking about, that would be a perfect opportun'i ty f or people to f eed some ki nd of mi si nf ormati on . I had no basis on which to assess that.