Fiona Hill (presidential advisor)

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Fiona Hill
Fiona Hill MSC 2017 (cropped).jpg
Hill during the Munich Security Conference 2017
Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council
In office
April 2017 – July 19, 2019
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byTim Morrison
National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council
In office
Preceded byAngela Stent
Succeeded byEugene Rumer
Personal details
BornOctober 1965 (age 55)
Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England
  • United Kingdom
  • United States (since 2002)
Kenneth Keen
(m. 1995)

Fiona Hill (born October 1965) is a British-American foreign affairs specialist and academic. She is a former official at the U.S. National Security Council specializing in Russian and European affairs. She was a witness in the November 2019 House hearings regarding the impeachment inquiry during the first impeachment of Donald Trump. She was awarded her Ph.D. in history from Harvard University and currently, she is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Early life and education

Hill was born in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, in northern England, the daughter of a coal miner, Alfred Hill, and a midwife, June Murray.[1][2] Her father died in 2012; her mother still lives in Bishop Auckland.[3] In the 1960s, as many of the local coal mines were closing, her father wanted to emigrate to find work in the mines of Pennsylvania or West Virginia, but his mother's poor health required him to stay in England.[4] Her family struggled financially; June sewed clothes for her daughters and at age 13, Fiona began working at odd jobs, including washing cars and working as a waitress at a local hotel.[3]

She and her sister attended Bishop Barrington School, a local comprehensive school. In 2017, she recalled applying for the University of Oxford: "I applied to Oxford in the '80s and was invited to an interview. It was like a scene from Billy Elliot: people were making fun of me for my accent and the way I was dressed. It was the most embarrassing, awful experience I had ever had in my life." She then studied history and Russian at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.[3] In 1987, she was an exchange student in the Soviet Union, where, while interning for NBC News, she witnessed the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.[3] An American professor encouraged Hill to apply for a graduate program in the United States.[4] On the experience, in 2003, Hill wrote in The Siberian Curse, "I noticed that many aspects of British (and, by relation, American) culture were surprisingly, even unexpectedly similar, and that the Russians and the West had a good deal in common. Before long, other aspects of the Soviet and Russian [...] mentalities and cultures reared their heads, and these gaps seemed larger and more consuming than any novel or textbook could transmit". Continuing in another passage, she writes, "Whether or not these gaps can be effectively bridged or, at least, mitigated will remain the guiding question for this field of study for decades to come".[5] Hill seemed to answer this question for herself in 2020, when she cowrote an op-ed in Politico Magazine, along with Jon Huntsman Jr., Robert Legvold, Rose Gottemoeller, and Thomas R. Pickering, wherein they state that, although Russia is and will likely remain greatly disharmonious with Western Europe and North America, it is in the security interests of the United States to seek cooperation where possible.[6]

At Harvard University, she earned a master's degree in Russian and modern history in 1991, and a Ph.D. in history in 1998 under Richard Pipes, Akira Iriye, and Roman Szporluk. While at Harvard, she was a Frank Knox Fellow, and met her future husband, Kenneth Keen, at Cabot House.[7] They have a daughter.[8]

Hill became a U.S. citizen in 2002.[9]


Fiona Hill (center left) with John Bolton at a June 27, 2018 meeting with Vladimir Putin

Hill worked in the research department at the John F. Kennedy School of Government from 1991 to 1999, and at the National Intelligence Council as a national intelligence analyst of Russia and Eurasia from 2006 to 2009. In 2017, she took a leave of absence from the Brookings Institution, where she was director for the Center on the United States and Europe, while also on the National Security Council. Hill is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the board of trustees of the Eurasia Foundation.[10]

In 1999, Hill was director of Harvard University's Strengthening Democratic Institutions project.[11]

Hill was an intelligence analyst under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2006 to 2009. She was appointed, in the first quarter of 2017, by President Donald Trump as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs on his National Security Council staff.[12][10][13][14]

Hill had been due to leave the White House to return to Brookings in April 2019. She developed a close working relationship with National Security Advisor John Bolton, and at Bolton's request Hill agreed to stay on until mid-July, when Tim Morrison would replace her.[2] As planned, Hill left the White House on July 15, ten days before the Trump-Zelensky telephone call. Hill has subsequently spoken of the difficulty of maintaining a consistent U.S.-Russia policy under President Trump, a result of the clash of her "hawkish" view on Russia and Trump's intermittently warm and welcoming approach, and of the difficulty of ascertaining what Trump and Putin discussed in private meetings.[2][15] The credibility of her testimony was questioned by Republicans, including Connie Mack who described Hill as a "George Soros mole infiltrating the national-security apparatus".[2]

In her post-White House career, Hill returned to academic work, albeit with a more public profile. Her views on Russia could be characterized by increasing pessimism on cooperation with the United States, as she expresses fear that even Russia's foremost oppositional politician, Alexei Navalny, employs populism and has a history of engaging nationalism.[16] Hill believes that, in the context of Russia's resurgent international adventurism, Navalny's political potential does not augur well with the United States' national security interests.

Among many analysts sought for their assessment of the January 6, 2021 assault on the capitol, Hill stated to The Daily Beast, “The president was trying to stage a coup. There was little chance of it happening, but there was enough chance that the former defense secretaries had to put out that letter,[17] which was the final nail through that effort. They prevented the military from being involved in any coup attempt. But instead, Trump tried to incite it himself, [t]his could have turned into a full-blown coup had he had any of those key institutions following him. Just because it failed or didn’t succeed doesn’t mean it wasn’t real.” [18] On January 11, 2021 an opinion authored by Hill explicated the basis for her assessment of the attempted coup that precipitated the second impeachment of Donald Trump.[19]

Impeachment inquiry testimony

On October 14, 2019, responding to a subpoena, Hill testified in a closed-door deposition for ten hours before a committee of the United States Congress as part of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump during his first impeachment.[20][21][22]

External video
video icon Testimony to the House Intelligence Committee by Hill and David Holmes, November 21, 2019, C-SPAN

She testified in public before the same body on November 21, 2019.[23] While being questioned by Steve Castor, the counsel for the House Intelligence Committee's Republican minority, Hill commented on Gordon Sondland's involvement in the Ukraine matter: "It struck me when (Wednesday), when you put up on the screen Ambassador Sondland's emails, and who was on these emails, and he said these are the people who need to know, that he was absolutely right," she said. "Because he was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy. And those two things had just diverged."[24][25] In response to a question from that committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, Hill stated: "The Russians’ interests are frankly to delegitimize our entire presidency... The goal of the Russians [in 2016] was really to put whoever became the president — by trying to tip their hands on one side of the scale — under a cloud."[26]

Selected works

Hill's books include:

  • Hill, Fiona; Gaddy, Clifford G. (2003). The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. ISBN 978-0815736455. LCCN 2003016801.
  • Hill, Fiona (September 2004). Energy Empire: Oil, Gas and Russia's Revival (PDF). London: Foreign Policy Centre. ISBN 978-1903558386. OCLC 68266192. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 19, 2019 – via Brookings Institution.
  • Hill, Fiona; Gaddy, Clifford G . (2013). Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin. Brookings Focus Books. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. ISBN 978-0-8157-2376-9. LCCN 2012041470.

See also


  1. ^ Borger, Julian (November 21, 2019). "Fiona Hill rebukes conspiracy theory – and emerges as a heroine for our times". The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b c d David Entous (June 22, 2020). "What Fiona Hill Learned in the White House". The New Yorker. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d Brown, David (March 4, 2017). "Miner's daughter tipped as Trump adviser on Russia". The Times. London: News UK. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "READ: Transcript Of Fiona Hill's Opening Statement". Boston: WGBH. November 21, 2019. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  5. ^ Hill, Fiona; Gaddy, Clifford G. (November 4, 2003). The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold. Brookings Institution Press. ISBN 978-0-8157-9618-3.
  6. ^ Gottemoeller, Rose (August 5, 2020). "Opinion | It's Time to Rethink Our Russia Policy". POLITICO. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  7. ^ Clauss, Kyle Scott (March 2, 2017). "Fiona Hill, Trump's New Russia Expert, Went to Harvard". Boston. Metrocorp. ISSN 0006-7989. Archived from the original on September 30, 2019. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  8. ^ Laviola, Erin (March 8, 2020). "Kenneth Keen, Fiona Hill's Husband: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  9. ^ "Read: Fiona Hill's opening statement at today's impeachment hearings". Politico. Capitol News Company. November 21, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Fiona Hill". Brookings Institution. July 7, 2016. Archived from the original on October 29, 2019. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  11. ^ "Russia Warns Muslim States Off Dagestan". The Boston Sunday Globe. Massachusetts. August 15, 1999. p. 22.
  12. ^ Newby, Ann a (April 4, 2017). "Fiona Hill, Brookings scholar, to join National Security Council" (Press release). Brookings Institution. Archived from the original on October 22, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  13. ^ Levy, Gabrielle (March 3, 2017). "Former Intelligence Analyst and Putin Critic Tapped for White House Role". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved July 2, 2019.[dead link]
  14. ^ Mohdin, Aamna (November 21, 2019). "Fiona Hill: the Durham miner's daughter creating waves in DC". The Guardian. London: Gurdian Media Group. ISSN 1756-3224. Archived from the original on November 22, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  15. ^ Bertr, Natasha. "The Russia Hawk in the White House". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  16. ^
  17. ^ In January 2021, all ten living former defense secretaries raised alarm in an open letter against a military coup to overturn the election results, warning officials who would participate and specifically naming Miller, that they would face grave consequences if they violated the constitution.Carter, Ashton (January 3, 2021). "All 10 living former defense secretaries: Involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  18. ^ Banco, Erin, and Suebsaeng, Asawin, Trump Officials Rush to Keep Him From Sparking Another Conflict—at Home or Abroad, The Daily Beast, January 8, 2021
  19. ^ Hill, Fiona, Yes, It Was a Coup Attempt. Here’s Why., Politico, January 11, 2021
  20. ^ Lederman, Josh; Lee, Carol E.; Welker, Kristen (October 10, 2019). "Trump's former Russia aide set to give revealing testimony on Giuliani, Sondland". NBC News. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  21. ^ Acosta, Jim; Borger, Gloria; Raju, Manu; Herb, Jeremy (October 15, 2019). "Trump's former top Russia adviser told Congress she saw 'wrongdoing' in US policy toward Ukraine, source says". CNN. Archived from the original on November 9, 2019. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  22. ^ Baker, Peter; Fandos, Nicholas (October 14, 2019). "Bolton Objected to Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Calling Giuliani 'a Hand Grenade'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on October 16, 2019. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  23. ^ Frazee, Gretchen (November 21, 2019). "Read Fiona Hill's full opening statement in Trump impeachment hearing". PBS. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  24. ^ Raju, Manu; Herb, Jeremy (November 21, 2019). "Impeachment witness: Ambassador was running 'domestic, political errand'". CNN. Archived from the original on November 22, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  25. ^ Lisa Mascaro; Mary Clare Jalonick; Eric Tucker (November 22, 2019). "Ex-official undercuts Trump defense". The Mercury News. San Jose: Bay Area News. Associated Press. p. A1.
  26. ^ "Fiona Hill: Russia's goal to 'delegitimize our entire presidency'". Fox News Video. November 21, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019. (Italicizing of the word “whoever” denotes Hill’s own verbal emphasis.)

External links