Former White House advisor reveals sexual assault during student days in Scotland

A former advisor to three US presidents has revealed how she was sexually assaulted during her student days in St Andrews, and mocked by fellow undergraduates on account of her working class background.

Dr Fiona Hill, the veteran intelligence expert who shot to prominence after her testimony during the first impeachment of Donald Trump, said she was touched inappropriately while working at the town’s prestigious Royal and Ancient Golf Club, only for her manager to threaten to blacklist her after she made a complaint.

The former senior director in the US National Security Council also said she was regarded as a “performing seal” by some of her well-off peers at university, with one even accusing her of sleeping with her tutor after she excelled in her studies.

The 56-year-old was born into a coal mining family in County Durham, and went on to become a leading expert on Russian foreign policy, serving under George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and latterly, Trump.

She made headlines the world over when, in November 2019, she told the impeachment inquiry that Trump had disregarded senior advisors and pushed a false theory that Ukraine had meddled in the 2016 US election. In the wake of her testimony, Dr Hill received multiple death threats.

Now, in her newly published memoirs, she has detailed a blow-by-blow account of her time working in the Trump administration, as well as the struggles she experienced during her time at university.

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Dr Hill studied Russian and modern history at St Andrews, describing it as an “exhilarating” and “completely transformational” experience which put her “on my life’s path”.

Dr Fiona Hill, a former senior director at the US National Security Council, served under three White House administrations. Picture: Drew Angerer/Getty

But it was not without its challenges. Attending Scotland’s oldest university in the mid-1980s, she said, was to enter a “bubble of advantage and privilege”, where her peers included relatives of the Queen and the children of government ministers.

“For some of my classmates, I was a working class kid from the lowest rung of the British class system, who had seemingly ended up there by accident,” she recalled.

One incident highlighted in her book, There is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century, recounts the reaction of one of Dr Hill’s classmates after she received a commendation for an essay.

The incredulous student accused her of sleeping with her tutor in order to boost her grades, hitting out: “How could you have done so well? You’re just a common northerner.”

That flashpoint, and others, Dr Hill said, spurred her on to “keep on doing better,” despite the fact she felt burdened by an “acute case of imposter syndrome”, having missed out on the preparatory work undertaken by those students who had attended private school.

That issue and others like, she writes in the book, remains a scourge of the higher education system to this day, where children from disadvantaged backgrounds who make it to elite universities “often struggle” due to a lack of support and preparation.

One of the worst experiences of her time in the town, however, came after she secured a waitressing job at the bar and restaurant at the town’s historic golf club, only for it to turn into a “one day stint”.

“One old golfer stuck his hand up the back of my skirt and into my underwear as I bent down with his glass of single malt,” she recalled. “I reflexively elbowed him in the face and was ordered out. When I complained about what he had done, the bar manager offered to speak to the other places I worked in St Andrews to make sure I wouldn’t have another job in town.

“He would also deny it if I reported it to the university, which had no official connection to the golf club apart from proximity.”

Elsewhere, Dr Hill’s book, which paints a less than flattering picture of Trump, claims the disgraced former president “obsessed” about his trip to the UK in the summer of 2018.

Although it was officially deemed a working visit, she said Trump insisted it was a “state visit” with “all the bells and whistles,” and that he used every encounter with then prime minister Theresa May and British officials to “drop not-so-subtle hints” and talk of his desire to play golf at his Turnberry resort in South Ayrshire.

“May and her colleagues would pretend not to understand the conversational thrust and change the subject,” Dr Hill said. “Behind the scenes they made it clear to us that the president’s visit would be a huge political headache for them.”

Dr Hill, now a senior fellow at the Washington DC based Brookings Institution, also alleges loyalists in the Trump White House took to referring to her as the “Russia bitch,” and that Trump himself would frequently berate and belittle female aides, including senior women, in front of their male counterparts.

She added: “From his staff and everyone who came into his orbit, Trump demanded constant attention and adulation.

“The president’s vanity and fragile self-esteem were a point of acute vulnerability. He was a liability to himself and the country - a clear security or counter-intelligence risk.”

Since the book’s publication earlier this month, Mr Trump has hit out at Dr Hill, describing her as a “deep state stiff with a nice accent” who was “terrible at her job”.

There is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century is published by Mariner Books.

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