Former White House adviser Fiona Hill cautioned that American democracy risks being on a similar trajectory as Russia as Donald Trump has taken over the Republican Party.
Dr Hill said Mr Trump’s takeover of the GOP was similar to what happened in Russia under its president Vladimir Putin.
“The United States and Russia are obviously very different, so right from the beginning, I don't want to suggest that I'm equating the United States and Russia,” Dr Hill told The Independent in an interview. “But it's just the way the autocratic systems develop, so that when the checks and balances in your political system fail to work and where you end up with a presidency that basically has no other counterweight in the system.”
Read the full interview here.
Dr Hill served in the Trump administration as a senior director for European and Russian affairs for the National Security Council from 2017 to 2019 and is a respected scholar on Russia who wrote extensively about Mr Putin. She gained international acclaim for her testimony before Congress during Mr Trump’s first impeachment hearing.
“What we saw in Russia in the 1990s where there were political parties, there were checks and balances in the system, because the state and the presidency were quite weak,” she said. “And when Putin came in, in the 2000s, and he spent an awful lot of time consolidating the presidency, and basically making the president the central feature of the Russian constitution, and also, basically making the presidential election just a sort of a popular vote.”
In the same vein, Dr. Hill said Mr Trump has taken similar steps with the Republican Party.
“And in fact, in the path that we're heading, because Trump wants to get rid of, and he said it openly, term limits,” she said. “He basically wanted to retain power, even though he'd lost the election. He wants to get rid of any opposition, including within the Republican Party.”
Similarly, Dr Hill said Mr Trump’s efforts to come back to the presidency are based not only on the Big Lie that the election was stolen but also on public opinion.
“It's a direct relationship between him and his voters, his base, which is very similar in Russia,” he said.
Dr Hill is the author of a new book There’s Nothing for You Here: Opportunity in an Age of Decline, which describes her experiences growing up in the working-class coal country of England, how she found opportunity and her work in the Trump administration.
She also cautioned that people don’t understand how deep the crisis is.
“We've got an ongoing coup attempt against American democracy. It's not against Joe Biden or the president,” she said. “But say it's against America, an attempt to usurp power in the hands of a minority, and a kind of cult personality culture, around one person.”
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