DHS chief warns diplomats US will retaliate if adversaries meddle in elections

DHS chief warns diplomats US will retaliate if adversaries meddle in elections
© Greg Nash

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenEx-Trump official: 'No. 1 national security threat I've ever seen' is GOP Left-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' MORE warned a group of 80 diplomats that the U.S. would retaliate if adversaries meddled in upcoming U.S. elections. 

“To those who would try to attack our democracy, to affect our elections, to affect the elections of other countries, to undermine national sovereignty, I have a word of warning: Don’t,” Nielsen told the diplomats during an address last week, according to The New York Times.

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The Russian ambassador was reportedly present for the speech, which took place at Blair House in Washington, D.C. 

Nielsen's remarks on election meddling mark a stark contrast with President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic On The Money: Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban | Trump attorney says he will fight release of tax returns Lack of transatlantic cooperation on trade threatens global climate change goals MORE's past comments on the matter.

The president has referred to the federal probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian election meddling as a "witch hunt" and claims of such ties as a "hoax."

Trump also congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin for his election win earlier this month despite his staff warning him not to.

However, the administration appears to have taken a tougher stance on Russia in recent days. 

The Treasury Department slapped a series of economic sanctions on Russia earlier this month for their interference in the 2016 presidential elections. 

The Trump administration announced on Monday that it would expel dozens of Russian diplomats from the United States in retaliation for the poisoning of a former Russian spy living in the United Kingdom.