Transcript: Fiona Hill On Russia, Trump, The American Dream
You probably know her as Trump's foreign policy adviser who testified at his impeachment. But there's a lot more to her career, and life, than that.
Fiona Hill was an intel analyst under Bush and Obama and then served under Trump as senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council. Currently a senior fellow at Brookings, her new book is There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century. She also co-authored a book called Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin. It was a really pleasant chat — especially talking about our parallel paths from Britain to America.
The episode originally aired on April 1, 2022 and you can listen to it here. Some money quotes from Fiona:
“There was all that pressure in the UK to become something else, to become middle class if you got an education … It was almost like you have to leave your old life behind.”
“Putin, in my view, is the first populous president of the 21st century, coming in as he does in ‘99, 2000 and saying, ‘I’m going to make Russia great again’”
“I don't believe Trump was the Moscow candidate. He would never do anything for anyone else. He has no ideology apart from self-idolatry … There’s no America first. It's just Trump first.”
Andrew: Hi there. Another Dishcast coming at you. Today, we have someone we've been really looking forward to having — at least I have anyway — as our guest. It's Fiona Hill, whom you may remember from the hearings on the Ukraine scandal, in which President Trump attempted to leverage the National Security to get some slime produced against his opponent. Fiona Hill actually was there for the call and was gobsmacked by it.
We'll use the word “gobsmack” because Fiona's also from England. She's an English American, as I am. She's a foreign policy expert. She was an intelligence analyst under George Bush and Obama. And then she served under Trump as Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs on the National Security Council. Now she's a Senior Fellow at Brookings. She has a new book, There’s Nothing For You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century. She also co-authored a book about the Russian President called Mr. Putin Operative in the Kremlin. So we have a lot to talk about. And Fiona knows a hell of a lot.
But I want to start with — we grew up in England in the ‘70s, well, the '60s into the '70s in our teen years. When you look back at that era, I just actually watched Belfast, I don't know whether you saw that film? Amazing. It was beautiful film, but what really captured me was just the atmosphere, working class atmosphere, Irish Catholic. It reminded me of parts of my family. My grandmother was totally like the grandmother Judy Dench plays. There was a freewheeling chaos to the neighborhood that nonetheless was actually, when I look back, however irritated I was by all of it at the time, it was probably good to grow up with a community like that. Knowing everyone on the street, knowing everybody's kids and so on.
I grew up — and Americans need to understand the differences — I grew up in a small town in Sussex, right down in the south of England. Fiona grew up in the north of England, which is not that far away, but they are different worlds. I grew up in a very Tory, rural neighborhood. Fiona grew up in a very Labour period, at a time actually when there was huge conflict in Britain, a very polarized situation in the '70s.
So Fiona, tell me about growing up. You're from County Durham. Tell Americans what County Durham is like.
Fiona: Thanks very much, Andrew, and yes, absolutely, I have seen Belfast.