I know how I missed this: I won’t watch CNN, and especially not the ridiculous Don Lemon, unless there’s the equivalent of a gun at my head. I finally caught wind of it when a New York Times’ hard left op-ed writers, Nick Kristoff (who is one of the few rational ones in that group) referenced the tale as if it is indisputable proof of President Trump’s awfulness. On June 16, Fiona Hill, once Trump’s top Russia adviser, told Don Lemon that she was so upset at how Trump’s 2018 press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin was proceeding that she looked for a fire alarm to pull and considered faking a medical emergency when she couldn’t find one, just to disrupt it. “I just thought, let’s cut this off and try to end it. I couldn’t come up with anything that just wouldn’t add to the terrible spectacle,” Hill said on “Don Lemon Tonight.”
The “terrible spectacle” she was trying to avoid was that Trump refused to support US intelligence conclusions that Russia had tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Her self-glorifying account—at least to Trump-haters—didn’t get much coverage beyond CNN: little from the mainstream media, none from the conservative media. I sense, however, based on Kristof’s use of it, that it is destined to be wielded by Democrats as a “this is how terrible it was to have Donald Trump as President” story evermore.
But what Hill’s grandstanding really reveals is something every different, which is how this President, unlike all those before him, was sabotaged actively and passively by members of his own staff and administration who didn’t like him, trust him, respect him, or believe that he was a legitimate President. The media-derided term for what Trump had to contend with was the “deep state,” which had a conspiratorial ring and allowed those who correctly reported what was flamingly obvious to be ridiculed as paranoid. That term, however, was misleading.
That Hill decided that Trump’s handling of discussions and messaging at the meeting with Putin was inevitable. She is a Brookings Institution lifer, not overtly political, but a creature of liberal academic Washington and Boston, with ties to such liberal outposts as the Kennedy School, Harvard, and NBC News. Her scholarly credentials as an expert on Russia are beyond reproach, but virtually everyone she had worked with for decades and the institutions she was part of detested Trump and opposed his election. They, and presumably she, had concluded he was unfit and a danger to the country long before he was elected. Because the vast majority of both the Republican-conservative experts and specialists who a typical GOP President would rely on for advice and service and the Democratic-progressive members of the same class refused to work with a POTUS they considered an unmannerly clod, Trump, an outsider without foreign policy or political experience who needed loyal and dedicated advisers more than any recent President—who all need them—was handicapped from the start. This was dangerous, unpatriotic, and petty on the part of the experts, and it also required Trump to employ the people he could get from a shallow talent pool that he could not trust. (The much derided decision of Trump to make members of his family advisors flowed directly from this dilemma, and under the circumstances, it was a reasonable response.)
Hill was one of the relatively few who decided to hold her nose and work under a President she and her peers reviled on principle, with the objective of somehow managing to push the administration to the “right” policies—defined as the ones she preferred as a progressive and Democrat—from within. No leader should be put in the position to have to use someone like Hill, whose background foretold a backstabber. Trump didn’t need to suffer from Richard Nixon-style paranoia to decide that someone like Hill was a snake in the grass. She worked with Christopher Steele, who later wrote the fraudulent dossier on Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, when she was an intelligence officer and he was her British counterpart. She was also a volunteer adviser to the Central Eurasia Project of the Open Society Foundation, founded by the Democratic philanthropist and system-manipulating billionaire George Soros. But again, Trump had no better options, and he needed a Russian expert. Maybe he even believed that Fiona Hill was non-partisan, since she had worked under George W. Bush as well as Obama.
Hardly. She became part of the prosecution against Trump in both impeachments. GOP Rep. Connie Mack’s description of her as a George Soros mole on the National Security Council is exaggerated but not too far off-base. Now, as the mainstream news media increasingly is gravitating to stale Trump bashing to avoid informing the public about the mess that is Joe Biden’s Presidency, she’s a obvious resource for anti-Trump dirt.
Donald Trump decided that the best approach to a meeting with Putin was not to, say, call him a “killer,” as Joe Biden did in their recent meeting, or to confront him with accusations of “influencing” the 2020 election, which were inflated by the U.S. intelligence community in part to lay the groundwork for an investigation into alleged Trump “collusion.” That was Trump’s decision to make, and he was elected President to make it. Hill wasn’t. That she decided his handling of the press conference was such a looming disaster that she considered finding a way to stop it says nothing about the press conference or Trump. It does tell us….
- …that Hill had her own agenda, and was prone to pursue it even when it was at odds with the President’s intent. The ethical response when an official has such a conflict is to resign, not to try to sabotage her boss.
- …that she was laboring under confirmation bias, having decided from the start that Trump was unfit and incompetent, and unlike with a President she respected, she immediately concluded that when his strategy differed from hers, it could not possibly be wise or responsible. Under that self-delusion, she considered intentional sabotage to be reasonable and necessary. Bias makes you stupid.
- …that Fiona Hill exemplified how the unethical restraints “the resistance,” the political establishment (aka “the swamp”) and the academic complex placed on democracy and the elected President because they arrogantly decided that the election results should not be followed or respected. This President needed more assistance than other Presidents; instead he was burdened with less. Indeed he received internal opposition and disruption rather than the help he desperately needed to succeed. Hill was part of the same rot that was personified by James Clapper, James Comey, Sally Yates and many others.
“’America is back’ became President Biden’s refrain on his European trip this month, and in a narrow sense it is,” wrote Kristof yesterday. “We no longer have a White House aide desperately searching for a fire alarm to interrupt a President as he humiliates our country at an international news conference, as happened in 2018.” Talk about spin! No, we no longer have a President who is burdened by staff that are actively attempting to undermine him because they believe they have the right to veto the people’s choice.