WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Sunday he had seen no intelligence that Russia was again meddling in the U.S. elections in favor of his boss.
The assertions by National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien followed this week’s ouster of the acting director of national intelligence after an aide had warned Congress of the meddling.
“I haven’t seen any intelligence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump re-elected,” O’Brien said on ABC’s “This Week,” dismissing the reports as a “non-story.”
Shelby Pierson, an aide to acting intelligence chief Joseph Maguire, reportedly told members of the House Intelligence Committee in a classified briefing Feb. 13 that Russia was again meddling in the U.S. elections and had developed a preference for Trump.
O’Brien said he had not spoken with Pierson but said he had been briefed by Maguire and CIA chief Gina Haspel “and I have not heard that analysis or seen any intel along those lines.”
“Who knows what happened at the House and the intelligence committee, but I haven’t seen any evidence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump re-elected, and our message to the Russians is stay out of the U.S. elections,” O’Brien said.
Trump, after learning of the House briefing, is reported to have dressed down Maguire in a tense Oval Office meeting. On Wednesday, he replaced him with Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist who is ambassador to Germany.
Maguire had been considered the favorite to be nominated to the post on a permanent basis.
But O’Brien insisted that Maguire was replaced because his term as acting director of national intelligence was up on March 11.
“The president was not angry with Joe Maguire,” O’Brien said. “He thinks very highly of Adm. Maguire, and would elect him to stay in government in a different role, but as you know, his time as the acting DNI was up in a week or two.”
On Twitter, Trump has dismissed the reports of the intelligence warning as a “rumor” and a “hoax,” as he did after the U.S. intelligence community concluded Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help him win.
Separately, U.S. officials were reported to have briefed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the front-runner in the race for the Democratic nomination, that Russia was also interfering to help his campaign.
“My message to Putin is clear: stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do,” Sanders said in a statement.