Russia expert and former National Security Council official Fiona Hill told House lawmakers Thursday that she couldn’t blame President Trump for being upset with officials from other countries for criticizing him during the 2016 presidential election.
“Many officials from many countries, including Ukraine, bet on the wrong horse. They believed former [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton … was going to win,” she said. “And many said some pretty disparaging and pretty hurtful things about President Trump, and I can’t blame him for feeling aggrieved about them.”
She told the House Select Permanent Committee on Intelligence that when preparing for state visits after Mr. Trump was elected, officials collected all the statements from “senior officials” from other nations, including American allies, that were harshly critical of the president.
However, she noted that Mr. Trump had a different reaction to the Ukrainians.
“The difference here, however, is that hasn’t had any major impact on his feelings towards those countries. Not that I have seen,” she said. “But I have also heard the president say … that Ukraine ‘tried to take me down.’ “
In 2016, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. wrote an opinion piece criticizing Mr. Trump’s comments that as president he would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian, rather than Ukrainian.
Ms. Hill on Wednesday said the column was “not an advisable thing to do.”
Republicans have argued that Mr. Trump’s suspicion of Ukraine was warranted because of critical comments made by a number of Ukrainian officials about Mr. Trump before the 2016 election.
Ms. Hill acknowledged that a handful Ukrainians were “trying to curry favor” with the Clinton team to collect information on Trump allies such as former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. But she stressed those efforts were not part of an official government push, in stark contrast to the full-on assault from Russia.