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Fiona Hill condemns ‘partisan rancor,’ urges unity and other key quotes from her testimony

Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill.
Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill.Andrew Harnik/Associated Press/Associated Press

Dr. Fiona Hill’s testimony stood out to many Thursday as the former top Russia adviser on the National Security Council offered authoritative, eloquent, and no-nonsense answers on what she saw happen in the Trump administration in 2018 and 2019.

Her remarks on Russian meddling, her interaction with Gordon Sondland, the experience of women in the workplace, and more were shared widely, and “Fiona Hill” and “Dr. Hill” were trending by midafternoon on Twitter.

Here are five quotes that stood out from hours of testimony.

Hill rebukes Republicans who try to suggest Ukraine was behind 2016 election meddling

“Based on questions and statements I’ve heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves. The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies, confirmed in bipartisan congressional reports. It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified.”

Hill explains what can happen when women show anger at work

Asked to clarify her counsel’s statement that Sondland fabricated details of a conversation between the two of them, in which Sondland testified that Hill was shaking with anger at the president and others, and “pretty emotional,” Hill said her anger was not understood.

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“I was actually, to be honest, angry with him,” Hill said. “I hate to say it, but often when women show anger it’s not fully appreciated, it’s often pushed onto emotional issues, perhaps, or deflected onto other people. And what I was angry about was that he wasn’t coordinating with us.”

Hill says she realized later Sondland was ‘absolutely right’ not to coordinate with her, but it was ‘all going to blow up’

“He wasn’t coordinating with us because we weren’t doing the same thing that he was doing,” Hill said as she explained her realization that Sondland was pursuing a different goal than she was.

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“He was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy, and those two things had just diverged. So he was correct. And I had not put my finger on that at the moment, but I was irritated with him and angry with him that he wasn’t fully coordinating and I did say to him, ‘Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up,’ and here we are.”

Speier asks Hill to verify that her hair was once set on fire by a classmate

In an exchange with Democratic US Representative Jackie Speier, Hill showed a lighter side. Speier asked her: “Dr. Hill, I want to verify this story. I understand that when you were 11 years old, there was a schoolboy who set your pigtails on fire, and you were taking a test. You turned around and with your hands snuffed out the fire and then proceeded to finish your test. Is that a true story?”

Hill responded the story was true, drawing laughter from those in the hearing room.

“I was a bit surprised to see that pop up today. It’s one of the stories I occasionally tell because it had some very unfortunate consequences. Afterwards, my mother gave me a bowl haircut, so for the school photograph later in that week, I looked like Richard III or as if I’m going to be in a permanent play,” said Hill, making a wry face.

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Speier said, “I think it underscores the fact that you speak truth, that you are steely, and I truly respect that.”

Hill condemns ‘partisan rancor’ and urges unity

“When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other, to degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy,” Hill said at one point.

Later, after Representative Brad Wenstrup called for the “publicly announced and proclaimed Democrat coup to end,” Hill made another spirited call for unity.

“I think that what Dr. Wenstrup said was very powerful about the importance of overcoming hatred and certainly partisan division. And it’s unfortunate that Congressmans Turner and Ratcliffe have both left as well because I think all of us who came here under a legal obligation also felt we had a moral obligation to do so. We came as fact witnesses,” she said. “I wanted to come in to serve the country to try to see if I could help.”


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Martin Finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com.