National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien on Sunday dismissed the notion of imposing additional sanctions against Russia even after the DNI warned for the first time that the country detailed a campaign to “denigrate” former Vice President Joe Biden in the November election.
On Friday, counterintelligence chief William Evanina issued a statement warning that the Kremlin “is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate” both Biden and “an anti-Russia ‘establishment.’” Evanina also warned that China “prefers” for Trump to lose re-election to Biden.
Two weeks before his latest announcement, Evanina released a similar statement warning of interference by Russia, China and Iran in the November elections. Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly criticized Evanina over the statement, arguing that he withheld key information regarding foreign meddling campaigns in the 2020 elections, including Russian efforts that support President Trump’s re-election.
When pressed during an interview on CBS on Sunday morning about whether Trump spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin late last month to “knock this off,” O’Brien first dodged by saying that Trump and his administration has repeatedly told Russia not to get involved in the election.
Pressed again on whether Trump said that to Putin during their call last month, O’Brien insisted that he does not get into conversations that the President has with foreign heads of state because “those are private conversations.”
CBS’ Margaret Brennan continued pressing O’Brien on the matter, however, and O’Brien eventually claimed that “there’s almost nothing we can sanction left of the Russians.”
O’Brien then touted that the Trump administration had already “sanctioned the heck out of Russians” before reiterating his claim that the President continues to tell Russia, China and Iran to not get involved in U.S. elections.
Watch O’Brien’s remarks below:
National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien: “There’s almost nothing we can sanction left of the Russians” pic.twitter.com/n5PcaVGdNh
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) August 9, 2020