Recent reports that Russia is attempting to meddle in the 2020 elections in preference for President Donald Trump have been “mischaracterized,” CNN’s Jake Tapper reported Friday.
Tappers report–from an unnamed official–cuts against a narrative growing out of a House intelligence briefing that Russia is working to re-elect Trump. The “mischaracterization” came from Shelby Pierson, a top election-security official working in Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s office, according to Tapper.
“What’s been articulated in the news is that the intelligence community has concluded that the Russians are trying to help Trump again. But the intelligence doesn’t say that,” the official told Tapper. “The problem is Shelby said they developed a preference for Trump. A more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it’s a step short of that.”
“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, so it may have been mischaracterized by Shelby.” (RELATED: Intelligence Director Adamantly Denies WaPo Report That He Threatened To Resign)
A national security official I know and trust pushes back on the way the briefing/ODNI story is being told, and others with firsthand knowledge agree with his assessment.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 21, 2020
Trump reportedly berated Maguire in the oval office after learning of Pierson’s report. Maguire is currently the acting DNI, and the blunder ended his chances of hold the position permanently, according to the Washington Post.
The Russian government released a statement Friday denying the intelligence report.
“These are new paranoid reports, which, to our deep regret, will continue to grow in number as the election day approaches,” said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, per WaPo. “Naturally, they have nothing to do with the truth.”
Trump announced Wednesday that he will be replacing Maguire with Richard Grenell, who is currently the ambassador to Germany.