Hillary Clinton on Friday lashed out at President Trump, accusing him of “taking Russian help” after the administration forced out the director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, causing alarm among the Intelligence Community.
Putin’s Puppet is at it again, taking Russian help for himself.
He knows he can’t win without it. And we can’t let it happen. https://t.co/10Z2YIipOI
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 21, 2020
The former secretary of state’s barb echoes comments she made while she and Trump were rivals on the presidential campaign trail, when she remarked that Russian President Vladimir Putin would “rather have a puppet as president of the United States.”
During a classified briefing last Thursday, Shelby Pierson, the Intelligence Community election threats executive, warned lawmakers that Russia is again interfering in the 2020 campaign and attempting to get Trump reelected, the New York Times reported, citing several people with knowledge of the briefing.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller testified to Congress last summer that Russia had indeed interfered in the 2016 presidential election in “sweeping and systematic fashion,” but did so without conspiring with the Trump campaign.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper on Friday pushed back on the reporting surrounding Maguire’s departure, claiming that an intelligence source “I know and trust” challenged the narrative that U.S. intelligence concluded Russia is trying to help Trump again.
The reality is a “step short” of the conclusion that the Russians have “developed a preference for Trump,” Tapper quoted the anonymous national security official on Twitter as saying.
“It’s more that they understand the president is someone they can work with, he’s a dealmaker. But not that they prefer him over Sanders or Buttigieg or anyone else,” the official said, adding that “both Democrats and Republicans were challenging this at the briefing.”
The source went on to explain that Trump was “upset” he heard about an intelligence conclusion from a House Republican rather than from the intelligence community and was “out of joint with Maguire” on that process.
Maguire was ousted on Thursday and replaced with U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, his sudden departure causing consternation among the Intelligence Community.
Trump himself later pushed back on the claim that he was the favorite candidate of Russia, accusing Democrats of spearheading the narrative.
“Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates,” Trump wrote on Twitter.