World Events

Russians ‘Have Committed’ to Not Interfering in Elections, Trump Aide Insists

President Trump’s national security adviser said on Sunday that he had warned his Russian counterpart last week that “there would be absolutely no tolerance for any interference” in the November election, but did not mention that American intelligence officials and a range of private firms had said they already saw evidence of Russian influence operations.

The adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he had delivered the warning during a meeting in Geneva on Friday with Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council. Mr. O’Brien did not disclose what else was discussed, but the meeting comes as the administration is racing a deadline to decide whether to extend the New START nuclear arms control treaty and as it faces pressure to act against Moscow after the poisoning of Aleksei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader.

“One of the reasons I went to meet with General Patrushev is to let him know that there would be absolutely no tolerance for any interference with our Election Day, with our voting, with the vote tallies, and demanded that — that Russia not engage in that sort of thing,” he said, failing to mention the key way Russia had interfered, with a sophisticated disinformation campaign.

“The Russians have committed to doing so,” he said. “And so, look, it’s Russia. So, as President Reagan said and as President Trump often says, it’s trust, but verify.”

American intelligence agencies have already found the Russians to be active in the 2020 election. Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, told Congress in September that “the intelligence community consensus is that Russia continues to try to influence our elections.” Microsoft has provided similar evidence, as have Facebook and other social media firms.

Mr. Trump has never directly addressed the Russian involvement in the 2020 election, just as he has accepted President Vladimir V. Putin’s denials that Russia hacked Democratic National Committee servers and dumped emails in 2016. The Justice Department has indicted a dozen officers from the G.R.U., a Russian military intelligence agency, and the Treasury Department has continued to impose sanctions on Russians for involvement in election interference.

In recent weeks, Russian-backed hackers have amplified Mr. Trump’s accusations that mail-in ballots will lead to widespread fraud.


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