President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said he’s seen no intelligence indicating that Russia is doing anything to try to help get the president re-elected.
Robert O’Brien’s comments were released Saturday in a transcript of an interview with ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” set to air on Sunday.
“The national security adviser gets pretty good access to our intelligence,” O’Brien said. “I haven’t seen any intelligence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump re-elected.”
O’Brien’s comment came after he was asked about media reports that an intelligence professional told members of the House intelligence committee that it was Russia’s aim to favor Trump in the election.
Some officials familiar with the classified briefing said lawmakers were told that Russia was taking steps that would help Trump. And Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders acknowledged Friday that he was briefed last month by U.S. officials about Russian efforts to boost his candidacy.
A senior intelligence official with knowledge about the briefing, however, told The Associated Press on Friday that the handful of U.S. election security briefers did not tell House intelligence committee members that Russia was “aiding the re-election of President Trump.” The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the classified briefing, said some of the lawmakers reached conclusions that had not been made by the briefers.
O’Brien said he had not seen any intelligence or analyses indicating that Russia was aiding Trump and neither had top leaders in the intelligence agencies.
“All I know is that the Republicans on the side of the House hearing were unhappy with the hearing and said that there was no intelligence to back up what was being said,” O’Brien said. “But here’s the deal: I don’t even know if what’s been reported as being said (by the briefers) is true. You know those are leaks coming out of that hearing.”
O’Brien also denied reports that Trump became angry when he was told about the briefing and that he confronted former acting national intelligence director Joseph Maguire and subsequently replaced him with current U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell.
O’Brien said Trump was not angry with Maguire and would have liked Maguire to stay in government in a different role. He said Maguire’s time as acting director of national intelligence was up in early March and the White House needed an individual — someone who had already been confirmed by the Senate — to temporarily replace him.
“Ambassador Grenell is there for a temporary period of time,” O’Brien said, adding that Trump was expected to announce a nominee to be quickly confirmed by the Senate as full-time director. The president has said he is considering three or four candidates.