Trump officials: Russia meddled in the election

Trump officials: Russia meddled in the election
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Top homeland security and intelligence officials in President Trump's administration have thrown their support behind the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign, breaking from the president's own wariness to endorse the findings.

At the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Thursday, Thomas Bossert, the president's homeland security adviser, said there was no question that Russia had meddled in the 2016 election in comments reported by USA Today.

"There is a pretty clear and easy answer to that and that is yes," Bossert said when asked if he backed the conclusion from U.S. intelligence agencies. He added that more should be done to "punish" Russia and other groups for interfering in the election process.

"Not one bad actor is paying for their actions,'' Bossert said.

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President Trump's CIA Director Mike Pompeo joined Bossert, asserting that Russia had involved itself in several U.S. elections.

"Of course,'' Pompeo said Thursday when asked if Russia interfered. "And the one before that, and the one before that. "(Russia) has no intention of backing off.''

The remarks from two of President Trump's top intelligence officials are a major break from Trump's own public comments.

Trump has long cast doubt on assertions that the Kremlin sought to interfere in the presidential race to swing the election in his favor. Even since taking office, the president has been reluctant to stand behind the intelligence community on the matter.

In April, he suggested the hacks that roiled the Democratic National Committee and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Sarah Sanders says she was interviewed by Mueller's office Trump: I believe Obama would have gone to war with North Korea MORE's campaign chairman John Podesta during the election "could've been China" or "a lot of different groups."

And during a trip to Poland earlier this month, Trump said that, while the election interference could have been caused by Russia, it also "could very well have been other countries."

"I'm not saying it wasn't Russia,'' Trump said this month.

"What I'm saying is that we have to protect ourselves no matter who it is. You know, China is very good at this," Trump continued. "I hate to say it, North Korea is very good at this. Look what they did to Sony Studios. They were the ones that did the whole deal to Sony. You know, we’re dealing with highly sophisticated people."