(Headline USA) White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Tuesday the United States will not tolerate any election interference from foreign countries.
O’Brien said he told his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, to “stay out” of the November election and that there would be severe consequences for any country that violates that directive.
O’Brien spoke to reporters after delivering remarks at a national security summit in Salt Lake City.
“The Russians said that they had no plans to do anything of that nature,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said Russia was hit with sanctions following its interference in the 2016 election that he hopes will be a deterrent to other countries.
However, there has already been evidence of interference by Russia, China and Iran, O’Brien said, as well as other countries that he declined to name.
“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of a democracy, and we’re not gonna tolerate any foreign adversary or foreign government getting involved,” he said about his meeting with Patrushev Friday in Geneva. “I think they understood that message, and hopefully they’ll stay out of it.”
Senior Trump administration officials have cautioned that Beijing is the most potent danger. Career intelligence officials say China is a major espionage concern.
The communist country, which favors a Biden win, has its hooks deep in American universities, corporations, political lobbying, entertainment and professional sports, to name only a few of the sectors where its presence is felt both overtly and covertly.
Trump recently announced that he would plan to ban the Chinese-developed TikTok app over spying concerns, although a US distributor deal was subsequently brokered to allow the popular video platform to remain.
But the Left and its Sinophilic partners have pushed back hard by presenting an alternative narrative that names Russia as the chief threat.
That includes rehashing conspiracy theories that were initially concocted during the last election by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Microsoft—which maintains strong business and cultural ties with Beijing—released a report last month that found the same Russian military intelligence outfit that hacked the Democrats in 2016 has attempted similar intrusions into the computer systems of more than 200 organizations, including political parties and consultants.
Most of the infiltration attempts by Russian, Chinese and Iranian agents were halted by Microsoft security software, and the targets were notified.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press