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Russia trying to get Trump re-elected, intelligence officials reportedly tell Congress

President said to fear his Democratic opponents will use the assessment against him

Phil Thomas
New York
Thursday 20 February 2020 23:54 GMT
Trump calls Russia probe 'bullshit'

Russia is trying to interfere in the 2020 election to help Donald Trump win reelection, intelligence officials have reportedly told Congress – apparently angering the president, who fears his Democrat enemies will use the assessment against him.

The briefing was delivered to members of the House Intelligence Committee on 13 February, according to the New York Times, which cited five people familiar with the details of the meeting.

Among those present was Adam Schiff, chairman of the committee and the man who led the impeachment investigation against the president. His presence was reported to have particularly annoyed Mr Trump.

US intelligence agencies determined that Moscow tried to interfere in the 2016 election to help get Mr Trump elected.

He has long pushed back against the finding, even declaring that he believed the denial of Russian president Vladimir Putin over his own country's officials when he appeared at a joint press conference with him in Helsinki in 2018.

The report of the briefing came the same day that the president's longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone was jailed for just over three years for trying to obstruct the Mueller investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

The briefing was reportedly given by Shelby Pierson, a deputy to the ougoing acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire.

Mr Trump announced on Wednesday that he was replacing Mr Maguire, who has been in the job since August, with Richard Grenell, currently the US ambassador to Germany. It was not clear whether the decision to dispense with Mr Maguire had any connection to the reported Russia briefing.

While Mr Grenell does not have a background in intelligence, he is an outspoken Trump loyalist.

Mr Trump has regularly denounced what he calls the "Russia hoax", even dubbing the investigation "bulls***" in a triumphalist appearance at the White House the day after his Republican allies in the Senate cleared him of the impeachment charges – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – sent up by Mr Schiff and his colleagues in the House.

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