Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan repeatedly pushed National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien on Sunday to say whether President Trump has told Russian President Vladimir Putin "to knock it off" when it comes to U.S. election interference. O'Brien said he doesn't get involved with his boss' conversations with other world leaders, but said the Trump administration remains committed to keeping Moscow out of the picture.
Trump, O'Brien said, has been tougher than his predecessors. So much so, he argues, that there's little else Washington can do since they've already "sanctioned the heck out of" individuals, companies, and the government in Russia, kicked Russian spies out of the U.S., and closed down consulates and other diplomatic facilities. "Nevertheless we continue to message the Russians, and President Trump continues to message the Russians: don't get involved our elections," O'Brien said, adding that the warning extends to Beijing and Tehran, as well.
“There’s almost nothing we can sanction left of the Russians,” @robertcobrien says when pressed if @realdonaldtrump ever told #Russia's Vladimir Putin to "knock it off" with threats of election interference in 2020 during their last phone call in July pic.twitter.com/KvGtmsrpgo
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) August 9, 2020
Brennan, however, pointed out throughout the interview that intelligence reports indicate that the messaging — and the sanctions — don't seem to have gotten through to the Kremlin, as there's still evidence Russia is working to undermine the electoral process stateside. Foreign policy experts have also suggested current sanction policy doesn't always prove to be a deterrent, since Moscow views them as permanent and therefore has little incentive to change its behavior purely based on those actions.
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