Updated Feb 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

O'Brien rejects intelligence report of Russia effort to re-elect Trump

National security adviser Robert O'Brien. Photo: Chris Usher/CBS via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien repeatedly rejected on ABC's "This Week" an assessment from a congressional briefing led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get re-elected.

Why it matters: The report put the Trump administration under fresh scrutiny in regard to steps it has been taking to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. encountered in 2016.

  • But O'Brien contradicted the intelligence officials' findings, telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos the report was a "nonstory" and that he has not seen any intelligence or analysis to support these claims.
  • He did not, however, dismiss a similar finding that Russia is working to help Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, saying: "That's no surprise, he honeymooned in Moscow."

What he's saying: "I haven't seen any intelligence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump re-elected," he told Stephanopoulos. "We've been very tough on Russia and we've been great on election security."

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Murphy says White House national security adviser should "stay out of politics"

Sen. Chris Murphy. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien should "stay out of politics."

Driving the news: O'Brien said on ABC News that it's "no surprise" Russia has attempted to interfere in favor of Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary because Sanders "honeymooned in Moscow." Sanders said late last week that he was briefed about a month ago on Russia's attempts to help his campaign and that he completely condemns Putin's interference.

Pence aide says intel report of Russia helping Trump is "false information"

Marc Short. Screenshot: Fox News

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, claimed on "Fox News Sunday" that the White House has not received intelligence that Russia is seeking to help President Trump win re-election, calling it "false information" that has been selectively leaked by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

The big picture: Short and national security adviser Robert O'Brien both dismissed reports published in the Washington Post and New York Times last week about a briefing provided by top election security official Shelby Pierson, an aide to outgoing acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire.

Democrats demand new Russia sanctions over 2020 election interference

Putin and Trump. Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Senate Democratic leaders will send a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday afternoon demanding they sanction Russia — and potentially Russian President Vladimir Putin himself — for attempting to influence the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: The letter follows reports that a senior intelligence official briefed Congress that Russia is again interfering in the November election to help Trump. White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien repeatedly rejected that assessment on Sunday, and CNN later reported that the briefer may have overstated the intelligence community's evidence about Russia's goals.