Trump thought the White House's top Russia expert was a secretary and called her 'darlin' during a meeting: book
Category: News & PoliticsVia: john-russell • 3 weeks ago • 6 comments
By: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Haltiwanger,Sonam Sheth) 23 hrs ago (MSN)
- Trump called Fiona Hill "darlin'" and mistook her for a secretary after a phone call with Putin, Hill wrote in her new book.
- Hill was the top Russia expert on the National Security Council.
- "Trump essentially thought everyone at the National Security Council was a secretary," she wrote.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
Then-President Donald Trump called the top Russia expert in the White House "darlin'" and mistook her for a secretary during an Oval Office meeting in May 2017. That's according to Fiona Hill's new book, "There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century."
In fact, Hill was Trump's top Russia advisor on the National Security Council (NSC). In her memoir, she wrote that the incident happened after Trump spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone.
She wrote that Trump expressed "great satisfaction" with the phone call and thought Putin was "calm, measured," and friendly, and that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner agreed. But Hill, who's authored a biography on Putin, felt differently. "I had detected more menace in what Putin had to say," she wrote.
Hill said she wanted to interject and voice her concerns but that Trump was primarily interested in putting out a press release about the call.
"He had no interest in the substance at all, just the fact that he had a 'good' call with Putin and that Ivanka and Jared had agreed. The whole thing was slightly surreal," Hill wrote. She added that Trump asked her to type up changes he wanted made to the press release, but Hill didn't initially realize he was talking about her.
"Suddenly he was practically yelling - 'Hey, darlin', are you listening? Are you paying attention?'" Trump said to Hill, according to the book. "The president clearly thought I was part of the Executive Secretariat ... He wanted me to type up the revised press release."
Hill wrote that she had "no idea" she would be asked to do the task and felt flustered by the request, while Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner "had thought I was rude" by not immediately answering the president.
She said that being mistaken for a secretary became an "occupational hazard," writing, "Trump essentially thought everyone at the National Security Council was a secretary in one form or another."
The NSC, which is directed by the president's national security advisor, helps advise the president on foreign policy and defense and assists in coordination with various agencies on related matters. "Trump has stated he does not need advice," David Rothkopf, who wrote a book on the history of the NSC, told Insider in 2019. "As a consequence he does not see much need for advisers and an organization that primarily plays an advisory role."
Hill backed that assessment in her book, writing that the notion of having an "autonomous advisory body" was "entirely alien" to Trump. He came from a world where he was "the one and only, exclusive boss who set his own agenda," Hill wrote.
She also faced other obstacles while working in the Trump White House and wrote that Trump didn't consider her "part of his team" because she was a woman.
"I was never going to have any kind of sit-down with Donald Trump to talk about Vladimir Putin or Russia, or pretty much anything else in my portfolio," Hill wrote. "One of the major reasons was that I was a woman, and a completely unknown quantity at that. These two factors became critical in shaping my time in the NSC."
She also said there was far more emphasis on physical appearance and style for women who worked in the West Wing as opposed to those who worked in the NSC's office building.
"In the Trump White House, Ivanka Trump and Fox News set the dress code for women," she wrote. "It was readily apparent that for Trump and those around him, it was all about the look, the image, not who you were and what you did."
The focus on appearance and fashion was so all-encompassing that one of Hill's female colleagues at the NSC joked that going to the West Wing was "like being at your high school prom night, every day."