US official says getting White House to focus on Russian interference like 'pulling teeth': CNN

US official says getting White House to focus on Russian interference like 'pulling teeth': CNN
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A U.S. official with knowledge of the Trump administration's efforts to combat Russia's election interference told CNN on Wednesday that getting the White House to pay attention to the efforts was like "pulling teeth."

The official, who went unnamed, told CNN that Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHillicon Valley: FCC approves Nexstar-Tribune merger | Top Democrat seeks answers on security of biometric data | 2020 Democrats take on Chinese IP theft | How Google, Facebook probes are testing century-old antitrust laws Congress should defy Dan Coats' last request on phone surveillance America's cyber blind spot MORE feels that the White House is not being "forward-leaning enough in notifying Congress and the American people" about the need to take Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. affairs more seriously.

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The source said that officials have "spent months and months trying to sound alarm at the White House about the need to take foreign interference more seriously and elevate the issue," but have largely seen their pleas fall on deaf ears.

The source indicated that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE's National Security Council has blown off requests from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to meet about the issue, saying DHS kept "getting the Heisman" from national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonThe Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? Trump at a pivotal crossroads on Iran Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't want war with Iran | Pentagon chief calls attack on Saudi oil facilities 'unprecedented' | Administration weighs response | 17th US service member killed in Afghanistan this year MORE and his staff.

"In general, senior White House staff felt it wasn't a good idea to bring up issues related to Russia in front of the president," the unnamed official continued.

The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

The official's comments come after The New York Times reported that former DHS Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network DOJ to Supreme Court: Trump decision to end DACA was lawful Top immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign MORE, who recently announced her resignation, was urged not to bring up Russia-related issues with Trump during their meetings, despite Nielsen's concern about what she believed to be a key national security issue. 

Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyNOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Democrats ramp up calls to investigate NOAA MORE reportedly warned Nielsen that the topic “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below [the president's] level," according to the Times. 

Mulvaney told CNN that he didn't "recall anything along those lines happening in any meeting" with Nielsen.

"In fact, for the first time in history, state, local, and federal governments have coordinated in all 50 states to share intelligence, we've broadened our efforts to combat meddling by engaging the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the FBI among others, and we have even conducted security breach training drills to ensure preparedness," Mulvaney told the network.