National security adviser says foreign powers trying to exploit US race relations
National security adviser Robert O’Brien on Sunday said foreign adversaries are trying to exploit U.S. race relations amid protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“I’ve seen a number of tweets from the Chinese today that are taking some sort of pleasure and solace in what they’re seeing here,” O’Brien said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked O’Brien about Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) Saturday tweet that social media accounts linked to “at least 3 foreign adversaries” are “actively stoking & promoting violence & confrontation from multiple angles.”
Tonight seeing VERY heavy social media activity on #protests & counter reactions from social media accounts linked to at least 3 foreign adversaries.
They didn’t create these divisions. But they are actively stoking & promoting violence & confrontation from multiple angles.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 31, 2020
“Sen. Rubio is spot on,” O’Brien responded.
He said the senator is “100 percent correct” that foreign adversaries are going to try to “take advantage of this crisis to sew discord and to try and damage our democracy.”
He added that the U.S will not let that happen.
“And I want to tell our foreign adversaries, whether it’s, you know, Zimbabwe or a China, that the difference between us and you is that that — that officer who killed George Floyd, he’ll be — he’ll be investigated and he’ll be prosecuted and he’s going to receive a fair trial,” O’Brien added. “The American people that want to go out and protest peacefully, they’re going to be allowed to seek redress from their government. They’re not going to be thrown in jail for peaceful protesting.”
Stephanopoulos asked if Russia, which he noted has been active in the past in trying to spark racial unrest, is among the adversaries “now exploiting the situation.”
“There may be Russian activists who are doing that, but the difference that I’ve seen so far is that, for example, we saw a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman trolling the State Department about this,” O’Brien responded. “So it’s open. It’s coming straight from the government. So it’s something we’re keeping an eye on.”
A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, tweeted on Saturday “I can’t breathe,” with a screenshot of a tweet from a State Department spokesperson about concerns about Hong Kong.
“I can’t breathe.” pic.twitter.com/UXHgXMT0lk
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) May 30, 2020
Chunying later wrote “THUGS & HEROES HYPOCRISY,” and retweeted a clip later about protests from RT, a Russian government-funded television network.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted on Saturday a copy of a 2018 news release the U.S. State Department issued amid protests in Iran, but marked the release up referencing protests in “the U.S.”
Along with the release, Zarif tweeted “some don’t think #BlackLives Matter to those of us who do: it is long overdue for the entire world to wage war against racism. Time for a #WorldAgainstRacism.”
In response, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted “you hang homosexuals, stone women and exterminate Jews,” along with a screenshot of Zarif’s tweet.
You hang homosexuals, stone women and exterminate Jews. pic.twitter.com/eip0bu8RIL
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 30, 2020