Trump's national security advisor wildly claims Russia wants to elect Bernie Sanders because he'd cut defense spending to fund social programs
Via CBS News
- Trump's national security advisor Robert O'Brien said during a CBS News interview that Russia would like to see Sanders become president, an assessment directly at odds with US intelligence assessments.
- "They'd probably like him to be president, understandably, because he wants to spend money on social programs and probably would have to take it out of the military," O'Brien said.
- CNN's Jake Tapper said on Twitter he had spoken to a national security official who was critical of the political nature of O'Brien's remarks, noting they mirrored Trump's and contradicted intelligence assessments.
- The Washington Post reported on Friday that Russia is aiding Sanders to sow chaos in the Democratic primary.
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During an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, President Trump's national security advisor Robert O'Brien made a claim directly at odds with the American intelligence community, saying Russia would like to elect Sanders as the nation's next president because he'd cut military funding.
"What I've heard is Russia would like Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination," O'Brien said. "They'd probably like him to be president, understandably, because he wants to spend money on social programs and probably would have to take it out of the military."
He continued: "The Russians have always tried to interfere with elections because they want to divide Americans, they want to undermine our democracy. But the idea they want to influence the election and somehow cause the president to win, I just don't see it."
O'Brien echoed those remarks in another interview with ABC News on Sunday, saying that Russia interfering to help Sanders was "no surprise" because he "honeymooned in Moscow."
Shortly after O'Brien's claims, CNN's Jake Tapper said on Twitter he had spoken to a national security official who characterized the remarks as "more political than that of a national security professional," noting they mirrored Trump's criticisms and contradicted intelligence assessments.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that Russia is boosting Sanders in an attempt to sow chaos in the Democratic primary. Previously, the US intelligence community concluded with high confidence in 2017 that Russia interfered in 2016 to propel Trump to the White House.
"My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do," Sanders, in a statement to the Post.
The cost of the Sanders platform is over $50 trillion, given sweeping plans to enact a Green New Deal, wipe out student debt and create a government-run health insurance system that covers every American under Medicare for All.
While the Vermont senator has pledged to cut defense spending, he said in an interview set to air on 60 Minutes on Sunday night that there are situations where a military force would "absolutely" be warranted to defend US interests.
"Threats against the American people, to be sure. Threats against our allies. I believe in NATO," Sanders said. "I believe that the United States, everything being equal, should be working with other countries in alliance, not doing it alone."
"What I've heard is Russia would like Bernie Sanders to win the nomination. They'd probably like him to be POTUS because he wants to spend money on social programs, and probably would have to take it out of the military" -- Robert O'Brien's logic here makes absolutely no sense pic.twitter.com/EbPFI8JOdR- Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 23, 2020
5/ So why did O'Brien say what he said?- Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 23, 2020
"Perhaps his first instincts are more political than that of a national security professional," said the official, noting that in Las Vegas on Friday, President Trump said "Wouldn't (Putin) rather have Bernie, who honeymooned in Moscow?"