Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that Russia definitely tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
“Yes, Russia did attempt to interfere in our election. There is no question,” Mulvaney said on NBC, before adding: “Let’s not lose sight of the fact that it was the previous administration that let that happen.”
Mulvaney was pressed by “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on whether President Donald Trump accepts that Russia interfered in the 2016 election “in order to help him win,” after Trump last week offered conflicting signals on the issue in response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Critics of Trump have suggested that because of his defensiveness over the Mueller investigation, Trump has not taken seriously Russia’s past behavior or its ongoing threat.
“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax…And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected,” Trump wrote.
He later told reporters Russia did not help him get elected. “You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all. Russia, if anything, helped the other side,” he said.
In his report, Mueller outlined a sweeping effort by Russian actors to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, but he also determined “that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy” between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
Mulvaney said the “bottom line” was “that it didn’t make any difference” and that the Trump administration has been working for two years to fend off further foreign interference in elections.
“It’s stuff that doesn’t percolate up to the level of national attention,” he said. “But our Department of Justice, our DHS, have been working with states and local governments to make sure that no foreign government, Russia or anybody, has the ability to do, what in 2020, what they did in 2016.”