National security adviser: ‘I haven’t seen any intelligence’ that Russia is trying to help Trump

National security adviser Robert O’Brien is rejecting reports that the U.S. intelligence community believes Russia is interfering in the 2020 presidential election with the goal of reelecting President Trump.  

“I haven’t seen any intelligence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump reelected,” O’Brien said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” to be broadcast on Sunday. “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.”

A senior intelligence official earlier this month briefed a bipartisan group of House lawmakers and said that Russia had a “developed preference” to reelect Trump, according to reports published last week. Trump reportedly lashed out at Joseph Maguire, then his acting director of national intelligence, after the briefing, claiming that his staff had shown disloyalty by speaking to Congress about the issue. 

The president has repeatedly dismissed the intelligence in the ensuing days, tweeting on Friday that the news was “another misinformation campaign” being launched by the Democrats in Congress. 

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos consistently pressed O’Brien about the recent reports, at one point asking whether Shelby Pierson, the official who offered the intelligence, was lying. O’Brien demurred before later stating that Republican lawmakers who were briefed told him “that there was zero intelligence that was proffered to them to support that sort of comment.”

{mosads}He then doubled down, stating that he has not seen any intelligence suggesting Russia is interfering in 2020 to help Trump. 

“What I’m saying is I have not seen that analysis. No one’s briefed me on it, including the leadership of the [intelligence community],” O’Brien said, describing the news reports about Russian interference as “leaks” and stating that no leaders in the intelligence community have similar analysis. 

Pushed on whether he’s asked for the intelligence on Russia, O’Brien said, “I’d be happy to take a look at it. I just haven’t seen it.”

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Moscow worked to interfere in the 2016 election to benefit Trump and harm Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress earlier this year that Russia’s efforts “never stopped” in the wake of that election. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) acknowledged to reporters on Friday that U.S. intel officials briefed him that Moscow is working to interfere in the Democratic primary to aid his candidacy. Sanders said that he was briefed on Russian interference efforts “about a month ago” and speculated that the news was timed to come out on the eve of the Nevada caucuses.

O’Brien during the ABC interview described reports that Russia wants to help Sanders as “no surprise” but sharply pushed back against ones dealing with Trump. 

The comments from the national security adviser came as the president makes a number of personnel changes within his administration. Last Wednesday, he announced that Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, would be his acting director of national intelligence. Trump was expected to nominate Maguire but reportedly soured on him in response to the intelligence briefing. O’Brien denied that Trump was angry with him after learning of the briefing.

Tags Bernie Sanders Christopher Wray Donald Trump George Stephanopoulos Hillary Clinton Joseph Maguire
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