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: Facebook co-founder calls for breaking up company | Facebook pushes back | Experts study 2020 candidates to offset 'deepfake' threat | FCC votes to block China Mobile | Groups, lawmakers accuse Amazon of violating children's privacy Experts are studying mannerisms of 2020 candidates to help offset threat of 'deepfake' videos Bolton held unexpected meeting on Iran with top intel, military advisers at CIA: report 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.


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 TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' 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 Robert BoltonIraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds Trump officials say US efforts to deter Iran have worked 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 NielsenCongressional Hispanic Caucus demands answers on death of migrant children Trump expected to tap Cuccinelli for new immigration post Kobach gave list of demands to White House for 'immigration czar' job: report 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 MulvaneyOn The Money: Judge rules banks can give Trump records to House | Mnuchin pegs debt ceiling deadline as 'late summer' | Democrats see momentum in Trump tax return fight | House rebukes Trump changes to consumer agency House rebukes Mulvaney's efforts to rein in consumer bureau The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push 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.