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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 CoatsExperts see 'unprecedented' increase in hackers targeting electric grid Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows 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 TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he 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 - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause Bipartisan lawmakers signal support for Biden cybersecurity picks On North Korea, Biden should borrow from Trump's Singapore declaration 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 NielsenLeft-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing 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 MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' 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.