Trump Adviser Disputes Intelligence Claims of Russian Election Interference

February 23, 2020 Updated: February 23, 2020

Robert O’Brien, the White House national security adviser, dismissed claims that the Russians are interfering in the 2020 election or are attempting to help President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

“I haven’t seen any intelligence to support the reports that were leaked out of the House. But it’s just hard to comment on that because, again, I wasn’t there,” Robert O’Brien told CBS News’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning.

Those leaks, he noted, were released from a hearing conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). “I haven’t seen any intelligence that would back up what I’m reading in the papers,” he said.

Earlier this month, intelligence officials told bipartisan members of the Intelligence panel about alleged election interference on behalf of Russia, according to reports. Republicans asked for evidence. Those reports claimed intelligence officials then briefed the White House on election security.

“From what I understand about the report … I get this second hand, but from Republican congressmen that were in the committee, there was no intelligence behind it,” O’Brien said. “I think this is the same old story that we’ve heard before. … We’ve been very tough on Russia, and we’ve been great on election security. So I think it’s a nonstory,” he also told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

On Friday, after reports on the alleged interference surfaced, Trump was similarly dismissive, saying it was part of a Democratic-led plan to undermine his presidency.

Trump wrote on Twitter that it is merely “another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress.” He added in another post: “Be careful of Russia, Russia, Russia.”

The Kremlin said that new allegations that Russia is trying to influence the 2020 election are false.

Epoch Times Photo
President Donald Trump walks to board Air Force One prior to departure from Daytona Beach International Airport in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Feb. 16, 2020. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

“These are more paranoid announcements which, to our regret, will multiply as we get closer to the [U.S.] election,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. “They have nothing to do with the truth.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the 2020 Democrat with the greatest number of delegates, responded to reports that Russia was trying to boost his campaign.

“The intelligence community is telling us they are interfering in this campaign, right now, in 2020. And what I say to Mr. Putin, if elected president, trust me you are not going to be interfering in American elections,” Sanders told reporters in California on Friday.

Russia’s alleged interference triggered a two-year-long investigation headed by then-special counsel Robert Mueller. Last year, he found no conclusive evidence of coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The comments from the national security adviser came as the president announced that Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, would serve as his acting director of national intelligence.