Former National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster in Washington, D.C., in 2018. Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

H.R. McMaster told CNN Tuesday evening President Trump and other U.S. leaders are "making it easy" for Russian President Vladimir Putin to peddle conspiracy theories on the U.S. election and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

What he's saying: "It's just wrong ... it's really important for leaders to be responsible about this because, really, as you know Putin doesn't create these divisions in our society, he doesn't create these doubts, he magnifies them," Trump's former national security adviser told CNN's Jake Tapper.

  • "And we just have to be really careful not to be our own worst enemies."

The big picture: FBI Director Chris Wray told Congress last Thursday that the bureau has seen "very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020," primarily to "denigrate" Trump's Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden and "what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment."

The other side: Trump responded to Wray's testimony, by tweeting that "you don't see any activity from China, even though it is a FAR greater threat than Russia, Russia, Russia" before going on to insist that they and others would "be able to interfere in our 2020 Election without totally vulnerable Unsolicited (Counterfeit?) Ballot Scam."

  • On Monday, Trump said at a rally in Ohio that Putin "likes" him. "We get along," he said. "Wouldn't you say it's smart to get along? OK? It's smart."

Go deeper: McMaster says Trump's Afghanistan policy has left U.S. less safe

Go deeper

FBI: Russian hacking group stole data after targeting local governments

FBI Headquarters. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Energetic Bear, a Russian state-sponsored hacking group, has stolen data from two servers after targeting state and federal government networks in the U.S. since at least September, the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said on Thursday.

Driving the news: Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced Wednesday that Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration information that could be used to undermine confidence in the U.S. election system.

The final debate

Trump and Biden at the first debate. Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Image

Watch for President Trump to address Joe Biden as “the big guy” or “the chairman” at tonight's debate as a way of dramatizing the Hunter Biden emails. Hunter's former business partner Tony Bobulinski is expected to be a Trump debate guest.

The big picture: Trump's advisers universally view the first debate as a catastrophe — evidenced by a sharp plunge in Trump’s public and (more convincingly for them) private polling immediately following the debate.

Updated Oct 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden has huge cash advantage over Trump as Election Day nears

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Wilmington, Del., on Monday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had $177.3 million in the bank at the end of September, per the latest Federal Election Commission filings.

Why it matters: President Trump's re-election campaign reported having $63.1 million in the bank at the end of last month, as campaigning enters the final stretch ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3.