Chuck Ross on November 21, 2019
Fiona Hill, who served as a top Russia adviser to President Trump, testified at an impeachment hearing on Thursday that a longtime Clinton insider showed her a copy of the Steele dossier a day before it was published by BuzzFeed News.
Hill testified that Strobe Talbott, the former president of the Brookings Institution, shared the salacious document with her on Jan. 9, 2017. At the time, Hill was a director at Brookings, a left-of-center foreign policy think tank. She joined the Trump White House in early 2017 as senior director fore European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council.
A day after Hill’s exchange with Talbott, BuzzFeed published the dossier, which was authored by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC.
Hill’s testimony establishes yet another link between Steele’s dossier work and Clinton world. Talbott is a longtime Clinton associate who served in the Bill Clinton administration in the 1990s. His brother-in-law is Cody Shearer, a Clinton-linked operative who is the author of a Trump dossier of his own that closely mirrors allegations made by Steele.
Steele, a former MI6 officer, revealed in an Aug. 1, 2018 court filings as part of a dossier-related lawsuit that he provided Talbott with information from his dossier because of Talbott’s position on the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Advisory Board, which provides foreign policy advice to the secretary of state and other officials at Foggy Bottom.
“As regards disclosure to Strobe Talbott (if relevant to this claim), the Defendant relies on US Department of State Foreign Affairs Policy Board,” reads the Steele court filing.
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Steele relied on another State Department contact to push the dossier into government channels. The former spy met in Summer 2016 with Jonathan Winer, who served at the time as special envoy to Libya. Winer shared some of Steele’s information with other State Department officials. He also helped arrange an Oct. 11, 2016 meeting between Steele and Kathleen Kavalec, who then served as deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs.
Hill met Steele in 2016, though she said in a Nov. 14 deposition that she did not know that he was investigating Trump at the time.
She also cast doubt on Steele’s work and his motivations. She said in her deposition that she thought Russians fed Steele disinformation about President Trump. She also said that Steele, who owns a private intelligence firm in London, would “constantly try to drum up business” during their meetings.
Hill told Rep. Devin Nunes on Thursday that she does not recall the specific date when she met Steele in 2016. She said in her deposition that she first met Steele when she served as a national intelligence analyst in the 2000s. Steele was Hill’s counterpart at MI6, she said.
Hill, who left the National Security Council in July, said in her deposition that she was “shocked” to learn that Steele was the author of the dossier. When she read the report, Hill said she had “misgivings and concern that [Steele] could have been played.”
She also said in the Nov. 14 deposition that she believed Russia’s disinformation efforts were successful.
“There’s been a cloud over President Trump since the beginning of his presidency, and I think that’s exactly what the Russians intended,” she said.
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