Feb 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

House warned of Russian effort to re-elect Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump meet at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, last June. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

The nation's top election-security official warned the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get re-elected, continuing to attempt to sow discord among the American electorate, the AP reports.

Why it matters: The warning raises questions about the integrity of the presidential campaign and whether Trump's administration is taking the proper steps to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. saw in 2016.

  • A senior administration official told the AP that the briefing, first reported by the New York Times and Washington Post, infuriated Trump, who has pushed back on assertions that Russia backed his candidacy in 2016 throughout his presidency.
  • The president was especially angered by the fact that the briefing took place before House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who was the lead House impeachment manager during Trump's impeachment inquiry.

The state of play: The aftermath of the briefing, led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's Shelby Pierson, raises questions about the future of that office's relationship with the legislative branch — as it will now be led by Trump loyalist, and ambassador to Germany, Ric Grenell in an acting capacity, despite the fact that he has never worked for an intelligence agency.

Go deeper: Russia has already won the fight to undermine U.S. elections

Go deeper

Trump misrepresents 2020 Russia briefing as Democratic "misinformation"

Photo: Mazza/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Trump said in a Friday tweet that a briefing by a top election-security official before the House Intelligence Committee last week on Russia's attempts to interfere in the 2020 election was a "misinformation campaign ... launched by Democrats in Congress."

Why it matters: Trump, who was reportedly infuriated by the event, has made moves in recent days to ensure that administration jobs are held by those loyal to him — notably at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which led the briefing despite Trump's assertion that it was headed by congressional Democrats.

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.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

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.