KEY POINTS

  • Fiona Hill said Putin smelled like he just stepped out of a bath
  • She added that Putin's image at the dinner event seemed staged
  • Hill served as Trump's deputy assistant from 2017 to 2019

Dr. Fiona Hill, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, has recalled an event where she sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, commenting on how he appeared and smelt. 

Speaking on BBC Sounds’ Desert Island Discs show, Hill said she attended a dinner while she was working as a national intelligence officer for the U.S. government. The former Trump adviser said she was seated close to Putin and that she could touch him if she reached out. 

In the interview published last week, Hill said Putin was not wearing any cologne but added that he smelled like he had just stepped out of a bath. 

"Now this sound really bizarre, but I could smell that he was freshly laundered, he wasn't wearing cologne but it was almost like he had stepped out of some special preparatory bath or something into the moment,” she said. 

Hill added that Putin constantly projected an image that he was in command of himself. She also said that every element of the Russian leader’s presence seemed staged, noting that she saw him holding giant cards which explained what he should say and who was who in the event. 

"He was just all in command of himself projecting this image, I thought 'wow, look at this,'” Hill said. “All of this is staged, every little element of this is staged, this is a performance."

At one point in the interview, Hill was asked to what extent she believed Putin would go in order to secure victory in the war in Ukraine. Hill said she believed the Russian president would likely use nuclear weapons if there was an existential threat to his country, which she said there “isn’t right now to Russia.”

Hill served as the national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia from 2006 to 2009 before she was tapped to serve as the deputy assistant to Trump from 2017 to 2019. 

Hill also served as one of the key witnesses of Trump’s first impeachment hearing. In a deposition, Hill slammed the false narrative that Ukrainians, not Russians, interfered in the 2016 election. She also accused Putin of manipulating Trump, who she described as a “massive counterintelligence risk.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes he cannot afford to lose in Ukraine, despite setbacks in the war, according to the US CIA chief. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes he cannot afford to lose in Ukraine, despite setbacks in the war, according to the US CIA chief. Photo: SPUTNIK via AFP / Mikhail KLIMENTYEV