Trump officials rejected mutual ban on political interference from Moscow: report
The Trump administration dismissed a deal from a top Russian diplomat earlier this year regarding a mutual ban between Washington and Moscow on foreign political interference, BuzzFeed News reported Friday.
U.S. administration officials told the publication that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was in a July meeting with State Department Under Secretary Tom Shannon when he presented U.S. officials with a deal that would prohibit both governments from meddling in each other’s elections.
“We said ‘thank you very much but now is not the time for this,’ ” a senior State Department official told the publication.
The reported rejection came months after the U.S. intelligence community released their assessment that the Kremlin would continue to attempt to breach and meddle in future U.S. elections.
A spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC) told BuzzFeed News that the White House and the State Department “coordinated closely on the United States’ response,” adding that the agreement did not escalate to the stage of bilateral negotiations.
Another high-level State Department official told the publication that if the deal was accepted, the U.S. would have had to “give up democracy promotion in Russia, which we’re not willing to do.”
The rejection also came shortly before Congress would buck the president in passing a Russia sanctions bill, and roughly two months after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to spearhead the federal probe into ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia amid Moscow’s election meddling last year.
The Hill has reached out to the State Department for comment.
– This report was updated at 4:43 p.m. EST