'Putin Took a Hit' From Fiona Hill's Damning Impeachment Testimony, Former FBI Assistant Director Says

Thursday's impeachment investigation hearings were damaging for both President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin—and may prompt an increase in Russian information warfare, a former senior FBI agent has warned.

Frank Figliuzzi, the former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, told MSNBC Thursday that Thursday's hearings had undermined Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections.

Figliuzzi added that the response would likely be an intensified online campaign to push the shared narrative of the Kremlin and the GOP.

Fiona Hill, the top official on Russian affairs at the National Security Council, and David Holmes, the counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, testified to House investigators Thursday.

Hill was particularly direct, condemning the GOP for propagating the baseless conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a bid to swing the contest in favor of Hillary Clinton.

Trump has pushed this narrative himself, and reportedly pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce an investigation into the theory and the debunked allegations of corruption against possible 2020 rival Joe Biden, all in exchange for the release of frozen military aid.

Hill asked the GOP members "that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests," referring to the Ukrainian election meddling conspiracy theory. Putin himself has pushed the same narrative.

Trump has also been dismissive of suggestions that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election to help him win, despite the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies, Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller.

Reacting on MSNBC, Figliuzzi said that Hill's "powerful" testimony undermined Putin's efforts to shift the blame for election meddling away from Moscow. Blaming Ukraine is "exactly what Putin wants," he explained. "Putin took a hit today."

But Figliuzzi added that the setback likely won't go unanswered. "Let me tell you something, we're in for a withering assault because of the success of these hearings," he predicted.

"You're going to see the GOP and the White House and the attorney general at this and the Senate—led by Lindsey Graham—put out an all-out assault on anyone that's trying to get to the truth," he continued.

"And they will be aided and abetted by the Russian intelligence service who will step up the game on social media with bots and trolls and posts that continue the Russian narrative," Figliuzzi added. "We need to hunker down because it's coming, and it's coming in a big way in the next few weeks."

Fiona Hill, testimony, Ukraine, Russia, Vladimir Putin
Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Europe and Russia, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill November 21, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/Getty