If you watch nothing else of the impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill from this past week, please watch Dr. Fiona Hill's opening statement.
This woman — an England-born, naturalized American citizen and patriot who is as far from a so-called "deep-stater" as one can get — sums it up well, and she even offers a slight defense of President Trump's indignation at being cast as a "illegitimate" president. (More on that defense later.)
After noting that the most recent years of her three-plus decades of national service were spent as a Russia and Eurasia expert and national Intelligence officer for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, she said she was hired at the National Security Agency in 2017 by Mike Flynn and K.T. McFarland and Gen. Keith Kellogg. By the time she started work there, Gen. H.R. McMaster was the national security adviser.
She wasted no time getting to the big picture of what is at stake, and that big picture is not Donald Trump. It's American security.
"Our nation is being torn apart. Truth is questioned. Our highly professional and expert career foreign service is being undermined."
But let's start earlier in Hill's message:
"Based on questions and statements I have 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 has been 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. ...
"The impact of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today. Our nation is being torn apart. Truth is questioned. Our highly professional and expert career foreign service is being undermined. U.S. support for Ukraine — which continues to face armed Russian aggression — has been politicized.
"The Russian government's goal is to weaken our country — to diminish America's global role and to neutralize a perceived U.S. threat to Russian interests. President Putin and the Russian security services aim to counter U.S. foreign policy objectives in Europe, including in Ukraine, where Moscow wishes to reassert political and economic dominance. ...
"Right now, Russia's security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election. We are running out of time to stop them.
"In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests. that Ukraine — not Russia — attacked us in 2016. These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes.
"President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a Super PAC. They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives. When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other, degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy."
If we partisans — right and left — don't now feel spanked, we should.
As for the defense of Trump? Hill noted that the Russians set about to divide Americans in 2016 with the aim that whoever won — Trump or Hillary Clinton — was an illegitimate president, in power under a cloud.
Think about that. Russia may have wanted Trump to win, as Putin has said, but that wasn't the real point. The aim was that either candidate would be smeared with American doubt as the morning-after-election sun rose.
We believe the core failing of Donald Trump is his inability to rise above his ego. He couldn't and wouldn't say, in 2016 or now, "Investigate and get to the bottom of this." He instead covered up, accepted conspiracy theories, used those fabricated theories for more cover-up and bullied his party to do the same. Now he has tried to extort Ukraine to dig up dirt for him on a new 2020 opponent, Joe Biden, in exchange for foreign aid.
To carry this out, Trump formed his own special team — Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the three amigos, U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, special envoy Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Those actors, in Hill's overly kind words, were dispatched in a "domestic political errand" that diverged from real national security foreign policy.
When it came time Thursday for Republicans to ask questions of Hill, they mostly didn't. They speechified instead.
Which brings us to this: If Republicans want Americans to believe Trump's Ukraine behavior is not a problem, they have to sell us on yet another Trump lie — another Mexico-will-pay-for-the-wall assertion, another largest-inaugural-crowd-ever claim, another wind-turbine-noise-causes-cancer piece of malarkey.
By all means, read the transcript of Trump's July 25 Ukraine call. And watch the testimony of Dr. Fiona Hill.