Just a day after the Trump administration’s former top Russian expert testifying in an impeachment hearing took GOP lawmakers to task for spreading “a fictional narrative” about Ukraine meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a new report revealed that senators and their aides recently were told by U.S. intelligence officials that the tale was part of a multiyear Russian disinformation campaign.

“The Russians have a particular vested interest in putting Ukraine, Ukrainian leaders in a very bad light,” Fiona Hill, a former White House adviser on Russia, said Thursday. “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.”

Hill said the narrative could cause harm to the U.S. and give Russia a foothold in next year’s election. “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,” Hill said, asking lawmakers to avoid promoting “politically derivative falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests” during the impeachment probe.

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