We all know about the various Russian allegations against the Trump administration, and President Trump certainly knows of them too, so he has decided to hire someone to help curb those allegations at least a little bit. We heard in just the last week that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had apparently met with a Russian ambassador during the Trump campaign. However, in his confirmation hearing, he claimed he had not spoken to the Russians in any way.
His excuse was that he did not think it was needed to talk about those things, due to them not being anything of note. However, many believe if the talks were nothing to write home about, Sessions would have disclosed them in the hearing. Regardless of why he didn’t, he is the latest Trump cabinet member to have had allegations of Russian connections. This has caused President Trump to do something that he may have never done if not for the allegations.
Trump is set to bring in Fiona Hill, who is a former intelligence officer and well-known critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. She is set to take on Trump’s White House Senior Director for Russia and Europe position. Reported first by Foreign Policy, this is certainly a hire done due to the Russian allegations, and there really is no extra cause behind it really.
Hill had been a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, but before this, she was an intelligence officer from 2006 to 2009 with the National Intelligence Council. She served under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. This gives Hill a bit of an edge to many, as it means she served under two different administrations from two different parties. This would make her a bit of a bipartisan pick for President Trump, which is key at this point.
Clearly, if President Trump brought someone in who was very loyal to one party and only served under them, it could cause some issues with a certain party. However, he brought in a person who had no loyal affiliation that could cause a problem. As mentioned previously, she has been quite the critic of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and that alone makes her very useful to the Trump administration so that the President can have someone to tell him the issues Putin could cause the United States.
Fiona Hill has argued in favor of keeping current sanctions in place on Russia. The reason Hill wants this is due to Russia’s aggression in Crimea and Ukraine. She even wrote about Vladimir Putin’s desire for a “weakened U.S. Presidency” in analyzing his interest in messing around with the American election. This is an analysis President Trump has resisted despite the intelligence community believing something happened here.
A White House official informed Foreign Policy that Hill was offered the job and considered it to be one of the most important positions within the government shaping the United States’ relationship with Russia, alongside Keith Kellogg, who happened to be the one who wanted to bring her in. He’s even the one who formally offered the job. Kellogg did serve as Chief of Staff to the National Security Council when he offered the position but moved up to National Security Adviser when Michael Flynn resigned.
Flynn ended up resigning following revelations that he had “mischaracterized conversations” with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in President Trump’s office last month. Of course, this all came before the recent allegations against Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions was connected to the Trump campaign when he met with the same Ambassador last summer, leading many to believe he spoke to them about the campaign. Of course, whether he did or not is unknown.
The fact that Sessions did not disclose his conversations during his confirmation hearing made many people fishy about him covering up when he could have mentioned it if there was nothing to hide. Regardless of why he did, Sessions recused himself this past week from the Russia/Trump election investigation. Many people felt this was a good move by the Trump administration, but we very well could hear Sessions testify regarding his connections to the situation.
Regarding Fiona Hill, the theory on both sides was that the hire was smart and good for the Trump administration. In fact, Democrats have praised the pick, even Michael McFaul, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Russia under former President Barack Obama. He told Bloomberg recently that Fiona Hill was a “great hire,” adding that “Fiona is both a first-class scholar and an experienced former government official.”
It’ll be interesting to see how she helps the Trump administration going forward, especially in terms of how she’ll help the President regarding Vladimir Putin. Trump has been open about liking Putin and wanting to have a better relationship with Russia, but many feel that the President does not understand what sort of problems that could come with or what the United States would have to give up. Hill may be able to help in all areas, so the hire may be highly beneficial.
[Featured Image By Jim Lo Scalzo/AP Images]