Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is apparently determined to keep grave warnings about Russian election interference from President Trump as not to upset him.
Mulvaney earlier this year told former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen not to bring up her concerns about Russian interference in the 2020 election, and her hopes to organize efforts to combat it, in front of Trump, The New York Times reports. This "wasn't a great subject and should be kept below his level," Mulvaney reportedly said, because Trump sees any discussion of Russian interference as undermining his 2016 election win.
As a result, the Times says, Nielsen gave up on a plan to organize a meeting of Cabinet secretaries to come up with a strategy for preventing interference in 2020, despite the fact that she had become "increasingly concerned" about continued Russian activity. In the past, Nielsen had assembled her own meetings on the issue after growing "so frustrated" with the White House's lack of response. She reportedly began to push for efforts to prevent 2020 election interference last year, although only after it became clear that she was falling out of Trump's favor.
Nielsen was ultimately forced out of the administration in April, reportedly over disagreements with the president on immigration.
This report comes one day after Jared Kushner, President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, publicly dismissed Russian interference in 2016 as just "a couple of Facebook ads," saying Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation actually had a "much harsher impact on our democracy." Brendan Morrow