DHS Secretary Claims She Hasn’t Seen Intelligence Reports Stating Putin Helped Trump Win

“I’m not aware of that.”

Tom Williams/ZUMA

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

In January 2017, US intelligence officials at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency definitively concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin “developed a clear preference” for then-2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump and coordinated a high-level campaign aimed at discrediting his opponent, Hillary Clinton. 

The assessment was also backed by the Senate Intelligence Committee and special counsel Robert Mueller.

Despite the well-publicized and unambiguous assessment, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Tuesday told a group of reporters, “I don’t believe I have seen that conclusion.”  

“That the specific intent was to help President Trump win—I’m not aware of that,” Nielsen continued. “But I do generally have no reason to doubt any intelligence assessment.” She later attempted to clarify the statement, adding that Russian interference affected “both sides.”

Nielsen’s remarks, which come amid her reported tensions with Trump over immigration, sparked instant condemnation. Shortly after the comment surfaced on social media, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) sent an email to reporters with several links to the intelligence community’s findings. The subject line of the email read, “I honestly can’t believe I have to keep doing this.”

In recent days, Trump has taken new steps to undermine the ongoing Russia investigations. His anger with the special counsel’s probe hit a new level on Sunday, when he announced his intention to order the Justice Department to look into his claim that the FBI may have illegally spied on his campaign for political purposes.  (The president’s narrative appears to misrepresent reports that an FBI informant made contact with Trump associates to look into the growing concerns regarding foreign influence in the American election.) Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Tuesday that the Justice Department would investigate Trump’s latest conspiracy theory.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate