- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, warned Kirstjen Nielsen during her stint as head of the Department of Homeland Security not to speak with President Trump about attempts by Russia to interfere in future U.S. elections, a report said Wednesday.

Citing several current and former unnamed Trump administration officials, The New York Times reported that Ms. Nielsen became frustrated while serving as DHS secretary due to being discouraged by Mr. Mulvaney from discussing the topic of Russian election interference with the president.

Ms. Nielsen wanted to discuss Russia potentially meddling in 2020 elections but, as recalled by one of the sources, Mr. Mulvaney told her not to bring it up with the president because it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”

Another official said that Ms. Nielsen pressed to make election security a priority during national security meetings held following the 2018 midterm elections but was rebuffed by the president’s aides on account of the next races being nearly two years away, according to the report.

The head of DHS since December 2017, Ms. Nielsen ultimately announced her resignation from that role on April 7.

Reached for comment, Mr. Mulvaney said in a statement that he did not “recall anything along those lines happening in any meeting.”

“In fact, for the first time in history, state, local, and federal governments have coordinated in all 50 states to share intelligence, we’ve broadened our efforts to combat meddling by engaging the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the FBI among others, and we have even conducted security breach training drills to ensure preparedness,” Mr. Mulvaney said in a statement to CNN.

Russia has been accused of interfering in the 2016 elections since prior to Mr. Trump’s win in the presidential race against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Former President Barack Obama announced related sanctions against Russia later that year, and the current administration has similarly taken action against several organizations and individuals in response.

Mr. Trump has remained skeptical about the Russian government’s role in his election and has repeatedly raised questions about Moscow’s involvement, however.

More recently, Mr. Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner downplayed Russia’s efforts Tuesday as “a big distraction.”

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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