President Donald Trump’s chief counterterrorism adviser said Thursday it’s “pretty clear” that the Russian government tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that he didn’t think the former President Barack Obama administration went far enough to deal with the hack.
“There’s a pretty clear and easy answer to this and it’s yes,” Thomas Bossert said when asked about Russian interference in the election while at the National Security Forum in Aspen, Politico reported.
The comment stands in stark contrast to statements the President has made over the past year. Trump has repeatedly questioned claims from 17 U.S. intelligence officials that the Russian government interfered in the election.
Recently while in Poland ahead of the G-20 summit, the President said during a press conference that the U.S. would never fully know if Russia acted alone in hacking the election.
“I think it was Russia. And I think it could have been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered,” Trump said at the time. “I said it very simply. I think it could very well have been Russia. But I think it could well have been other countries. And I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere.”
He later reportedly pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin about the election interference, which Putin denied. The Russian president later claimed Trump accepted his denial of the accusations when the two world leaders spoke about the investigation at the G-20 summit in Germany.
In June, the President played devil’s advocate with his distrust of intelligence officials’ conclusions that Russia interfered in the election, tweeting that if the Russians had been “working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during the Obama Admin. Why didn’t they stop them?”
By the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during the Obama Admin. Why didn't they stop them?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
Bossert acknowledged he agrees with the President on that front, saying Thursday that the Obama administration’s response of kicking Russian diplomats out of the country and closing two diplomatic facilities “wasn’t adequate,” according to Politico.
Trump’s denial of Russia hacking the election dates as far back as the campaign itself. When the U.S. government officially accused the Russian government of directing 2016 election hacks last fall, he said he notices when “anything wrong happens, they like to say the Russians” during the October 9, 2016 presidential debate.
“She doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking,” he said.