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Ex-Trump adviser Fiona Hill: US now 'ripe for manipulation' by Russia

Ex-Trump adviser Fiona Hill: US now 'ripe for manipulation' by Russia
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE’s former national security adviser Fiona Hill penned an op-ed in The New York Times Wednesday, warning that the U.S. is “ripe for manipulation” by Russia in the presidential election next month. 

The former top Russia adviser underscored that America's true weakness is the divisiveness and polarization that currently defines the political climate in the country. 

"And the truth is, Americans must recognize that the United States is ripe for manipulation. With a month to go before Election Day, we are ripping ourselves apart," Hill wrote. 

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The warning comes as the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday said that Russia is likely a key nation involved in spreading disinformation and misinformation in the U.S. Its goal is to “increase political standing and influence by weakening America.”

Russia has been on U.S. intelligence's radar for election interference. In the summer, William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, warned that China, Russia and Iran were trying to influence the election. China and Iran prefer Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Ex-Trump appointee arrested in Capitol riot complains he won't be able to sleep in jail Biden helps broker Senate deal on unemployment benefits MORE to win the election while Russia prefers Trump, according to Evanina. 

Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien met with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva this week and warned him that there would be “absolutely no tolerance for any interference” in the election. 

In her editorial, Hill called O'Brien's meeting “pointless,” saying it “misrepresents how Russia actually interferes with our affairs.” She wrote that Russia simply capitalized on divisiveness that already existed in the U.S. 

Hill, who was a witness in Trump’s impeachment hearings, further said the idea that Russia determined the outcome of the 2016 presidential election is “overstated.” The thought, she said, would have “never resonated so loudly without our deep polarization.” 

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A report released by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE determined that Russia engaged in a sweeping social media campaign to influence the 2016 election.

Hill wrote in the Times that Russia's influence campaign in the last presidential election "was a creative mix of old-style propaganda techniques and new cybertools," adding that the country's state-backed media outlets magnified "the most divisive U.S. political conflicts." 

Hill continued, saying that Russia took advantage of what Americans did to other Americans. 

She warned that the United States is far worse off that it was in 2016, when the country was already vulnerable to an attack like Russia's. 

"Today, we are even more fractured than in 2016. What was then a vulnerability is now a full-blown national security crisis," she said.

The former Trump adviser wrote that the U.S.’s own political divisiveness has lead to the “botched” handling of COVID-19, eroded our international reputation, and “made us susceptible to manipulation by any foreign or nonstate actor that wants to weaken us.” 

“By overplaying Russia’s ability to influence the vote, American politicians and pundits conceded victory to Russia and its intelligence agencies,” Hill wrote. “Instead, we should have focused on fixing our own faults.” 

Hill has previously stated that the U.S. is increasingly seen as an “object of pity” by other countries over its handling of domestic issues and political divisiveness.