In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law. The update -- just published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.
In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign, she tried to focus the White House on one of her highest priorities as homeland security secretary: preparing for new and different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election.
President Trump’s chief of staff told her not to bring it up in front of the president.
Ms. Nielsen left the Department of Homeland Security early this month after a tumultuous 16-month tenure and tensions with the White House. Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids.
But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”
Several advisors recalled that the President-Elect viewed stories about his Russian
connections, the Russia investigations , and the intelligence community assessment of Russian interference as a threat to the legitimacy of his electoral victory. Hicks , for example, said that the President-Elect viewed the intelligence community assessment as his "Achilles heel " because, even if Russia had no impact on the election, people would think Russia helped him win, taking away from what he had accomplished. Sean Spicer, the first White House communications director, recalled that the President thought the Russia story was developed to undermine the legitimacy of his election. Gates said the President viewed the Russia investigation as an attack on the legitimacy of his win .
And Priebus recalled that when the intelligence assessment came out , the President-Elect was concerned people would question the legitimacy of his win .