Fiona Hill told GMA that Putin “clearly intended” to throw Trump off by using an attractive translator at a 2019 meeting.
Putin went out of his way to introduce Trump to the translator, which was something he “didn’t normally do,” she said.
The Russian leader is “extremely skilled at manipulating people,” Hill added.
Fiona Hill in an appearance on “Good Morning America” on Monday confirmed that she believes Russian President Vladimir Putin deliberately chose an attractive woman to serve as his translator in order to distract former President Donald Trump during a 2019 meeting at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.
“I do have to say, first of all though, that this was an excellent translator,” Hill, who served as Trump’s top Russia advisor on the National Security Council, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “So one shouldn’t have been just distracted by her good looks.”
A male interpreter was originally set to translate for the two world leaders but was replaced at “the very last minute,” Hill said.
Putin “clearly intended to draw attention,” Hill added, because the Russian president “made a big point” of introducing Trump to the interpreter and that was something he “didn’t normally do.”
Hill’s thoughts on Putin and the translator were first revealed in a new memoir, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now,” from Trump’s former press secretary, Stephanie Grisham.
The Kremlin last week denied that Putin sought to distract Trump with the translator.
“Interpreters are provided by the foreign ministry at the request of the presidential administration,” Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, per the state-owned news outlet Sputnik. “Putin himself is not involved in this process.”
During Monday’s interview, Stephanopoulos also asked Hill how Putin was able to “play” Trump “in the way that he did.”
Hill, who was thrown into the national spotlight via her testimony during Trump’s first impeachment over his dealings with Ukraine, said Putin is a “very wily and very savvy former KGB operative.”
“One might say he never did leave the KGB,” Hill, who’s written a biography on Putin, added of the Russian leader. “He’s extremely skilled at manipulating people and finding people’s vulnerabilities, hence that episode with the interpreter.”
“[Putin] always tries to figure out how he can throw someone off guard or how he can reel them in, and how he can essentially persuade them to do the things that he wants or basically listen to his point of view,” Hill said.
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