Former Trump official says Russia trying to interfere in 2020 election: 'We have to be on guard'

Former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said Friday that Russia is trying to interfere in the 2020 election and said the government has to take safeguards against the meddling.

“I am never going to deny that Russia tried to interfere in 2016,” Whitaker said at the Oxford Union in the U.K., according to audio obtained by CNN. “They tried to interfere in 2018. And they're trying to interfere in 2020.”

“We have to be on guard,” he added. “At the Department of Justice, especially at the FBI, we had a unique view as to how to interrupt their effort. It's a counterespionage, counterintelligence, all of the kind of things that you do when other countries are trying to interfere in your domestic elections.”

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The remarks came after it was reported that the intelligence community's top election security official briefed lawmakers last week that Russia is believed to be preparing to interfere in the 2020 election to help President TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE win in November.

The briefing reportedly included details on Russia’s efforts to hack databases, expand its social media disinformation campaign and attack election infrastructure.

Russia is known to have employed a web of efforts to interfere in the 2016 election as part of what officials said was an effort to help Trump win that year, including attempting to breach election databases and spreading an avalanche of disinformation across several social media platforms. 

President Trump dismissed the recent reports, saying Democrats were responsible for spreading what he called a “misinformation campaign.” 

“Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to, after two weeks, count their votes in Iowa. Hoax number 7!” Trump tweeted Friday.