DHS Secretary Claims She Hasn’t Seen Intelligence Reports Stating Putin Helped Trump Win

“I’m not aware of that.”

Tom Williams/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

In January 2017, US intelligence officials at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency definitively concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin “developed a clear preference” for then-2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump and coordinated a high-level campaign aimed at discrediting his opponent, Hillary Clinton. 

The assessment was also backed by the Senate Intelligence Committee and special counsel Robert Mueller.

Despite the well-publicized and unambiguous assessment, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Tuesday told a group of reporters, “I don’t believe I have seen that conclusion.”  

“That the specific intent was to help President Trump win—I’m not aware of that,” Nielsen continued. “But I do generally have no reason to doubt any intelligence assessment.” She later attempted to clarify the statement, adding that Russian interference affected “both sides.”

Nielsen’s remarks, which come amid her reported tensions with Trump over immigration, sparked instant condemnation. Shortly after the comment surfaced on social media, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) sent an email to reporters with several links to the intelligence community’s findings. The subject line of the email read, “I honestly can’t believe I have to keep doing this.”

In recent days, Trump has taken new steps to undermine the ongoing Russia investigations. His anger with the special counsel’s probe hit a new level on Sunday, when he announced his intention to order the Justice Department to look into his claim that the FBI may have illegally spied on his campaign for political purposes.  (The president’s narrative appears to misrepresent reports that an FBI informant made contact with Trump associates to look into the growing concerns regarding foreign influence in the American election.) Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Tuesday that the Justice Department would investigate Trump’s latest conspiracy theory.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate