National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien Refutes Claims of Russian Interference in 2020 U.S. Election

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien refuted concerns amid recent media reports of House lawmakers being briefed by the intelligence community about Russia's plans to meddle in the 2020 election to get President Donald Trump re-elected.

"From what I understand about the report...I get this second hand, but from Republican congressmen that were in the committee, there was no intelligence behind it," O'Brien said in an interview on CBS News' Face the Nation Sunday.

He said that he hasn't seen any intelligence to substantiate the reports "that were leaked out of the House. But it's just hard to comment on that because, again, I wasn't there. And these are leaks that were coming from a House Intel Committee hearing. I haven't seen any intelligence that would back up what I'm reading in the papers."

According to reports by The New York Times and The Washington Post, in a briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, intelligence officials warned that Russians will continue their attempts to interfere in the 2020 election--including helping the president's re-election efforts.

President Trump also refuted the claims. In a tweet on Friday, he responded: "Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to, after two weeks, count their votes in Iowa."

The Washington Post reported that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had also been briefed by officials about potential Russian interference in his Democratic campaign. Sanders responded to the claims about the interference in a statement: "I don't care, frankly, who [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants to be president. My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.

In the same interview with Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan, O'Brien also dismissed reports that Joseph Maguire was "pushed out" from his position as acting Director of National Intelligence by the president in response to the intelligence briefing.

"He was serving under the Vacancy Act," O'Brien said of Maguire. "He was acting and his term, I believe, was ending March 11th or March 12th, like two weeks from now. So we're looking for a nominee that can be a terrific candidate, who can be nominated for this position. We needed someone who was Senate-confirmed who could serve in the meantime. And we turned to a great ambassador, Rick Grenell, our ambassador to Germany. And he's stepping in on a temporary basis to serve in the role of acting DNI.

"We have a lot of respect for Joe Maguire," O'Brien later continued. "So the premise of your question that he was pushed out just isn't true. Joe Maguire was always planning on leaving within the next couple of weeks. He did a great job. I had a really great relationship with him. And I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, as does the president."

Robert O'Brien
US President Donald Trump(L)speaks next to new national security advisor Robert O'Brien on September 18, 2019 at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. - Last week, Trump abruptly fired John Bolton, a vigorous proponent of using US military force abroad and one of the main hawks in the administration on Iran. O'Brien has until now served as Trump's envoy for situations involving US hostages abroad. He comes into the new job with backing from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior Republicans in Congress. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images/Getty
National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien Refutes Claims of Russian Interference in 2020 U.S. Election | Politics