Trump impeachment witness: U.S. still ‘vulnerable' after Russian meddling

By Evan Semones

A former National Security Council official who testified during President Donald Trump’s impeachment hearings contends Russian President Vladimir Putin has the U.S. “exactly where he wants us.”

Putin has “got us feeling vulnerable, he’s got us feeling on edge and he’s got us questioning the legitimacy of our own systems,” Fiona Hill told CBS’s Lesley Stahl during an upcoming “60 Minutes” interview that will be her first since testifying before House impeachment investigators in November.

The former top Russia aide’s testimony included details of Trump and his allies' efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate the president's political rivals.

When asked by Stahl whether the U.S.’s current political polarization could be attributed to Russia, Hill argued divisions existed long before the country’s meddling in the 2016 election.

“The Russians didn’t invent partisan divides. The Russians haven’t invented racism in the United States,” Hill said.

“But the Russians understand a lot of those divisions, and they understand how to exploit them.”

Hill’s comments echo testimony she gave to the House Intelligence Committee when she stated the nation was “being torn apart” as a result of Russia’s actions and urged Americans to come together in 2020 to prevent another effort to meddle in an election.

Hill, who now serves as a senior fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Center on the United States and Europe after leaving the Trump administration over the summer, went on to say that she doesn’t believe the U.S. is in a second Cold War with Russia, stating that there’s no longer an ideological struggle between the two nations.

“The Cold War were two systems against each other,” Hill said. “In a sense, we’re in the same system. We’re competitors.”