Trump was 'infuriated' by efforts to stop Russian election meddling, ex-DHS official alleges

'You want the president to be very vocal and to say publicly: 'Russia better not meddle in our elections or there's going to be stiff consequences.' The president didn't want to do that'

Alex Woodward
New York
Wednesday 19 August 2020 07:10 BST
Former DHS official says Trump 'infuriated' by efforts to stop Russia interference

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A former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security has claimed that administration officials were told to avoid discussing Russia with Donald Trump, who was "infuriated" by suggestions that his administration should work to prevent election interference.

"We were quite literally told, 'Do not bring up issues related to Russia with the president. It might be counterproductive,'" said Miles Taylor, a former DHS chief of staff who has endorsed Joe Biden's presidency in a damning op-ed column and in a video from an anti-Trump Republican group.

"When we were in 2018, driving towards the mid-term elections, it was clear our No. 1 homeland security concern was the possibility that the Russians might do again what they did in 2016," he told CNN on Tuesday. "You want the president of the United States to be very vocal and to say publicly: 'Russia better not meddle in our elections or there's going to be stiff consequences.' The president didn't want to do that."

Instead the president was "infuriated at the suggested that anything was being done on the subject".

"We couldn't get him to focus on it, the secretary of Homeland Security would call him about it, we tried to schedule meetings about it," Mr Taylor claimed.

At one meeting to discuss US counties facing potential election threats, the president "wanted to talk about how many counties he had won in 2016."

"He's not focused on the threat, he's not focused on the reality," Mr Taylor said. "At this point it's time for us to put country over party and I hope other Republicans would do the same."

On Tuesday, a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee concluded that the Trump administration had obstructed its investigation and embraced and encouraged help from the Russians in 2016 in a 1,000-page document closing out its investigation into election interference, aided by easily manipulated campaign officials.

In a video released on Monday from Republican Voters Against Trump, Mr Taylor alleged that the president wanted to "restart" a practice of separating children from their families at the US-Mexico border following its termination in 2018, despite a growing humanitarian crisis forcing thousands of children into federal custody while their migrant families were prosecuted.

"He wanted to go further and have a deliberate policy of ripping children away from their parents to show those parents they shouldn't come to the border in the first place," Mr Taylor said in the video. "He didn't want us to tell him it was illegal anymore because he knew that there were, and these were his words, he knew he had 'magical authorities'."

Mr Taylor also authored an op-ed for The Washington Post, published on Monday, that echoes the allegations and illustrates a president who has "governed by whim, political calculation and self-interest".

Agencies involved with the initial "zero tolerance" border decision "were unprepared to implement the policy, causing a disastrous backlog of detentions that ultimately left migrant parents and their children separated," Mr Taylor wrote.

In the column, he claims that the president sought to "dump" people entering the US without legal permission into "Democratic-leaning sanctuary cities and states to overload their authorities, as he insisted several times".

The president's "indiscipline was also a constant source of frustration," he claimed, pointing to a February 2019 meeting to avoid a possible government shutdown in which Mr Trump held a phone briefing with DHS to "discuss the colour of the wall".

"What we saw week in and week out, and for me, after two and a half years in that administration, was terrifying," he said in the video "We would go in to try to talk to him about a pressing national security issue – cyberattack, terrorism threat – he wasn't interested in those things. To him, they weren't priorities."

Following Mr Taylor's remarks, the president called him a "low-life."

"Anybody that does that is a low-life to me," he said on Tuesday.

On Twitter, the president said "a DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE named Miles Taylor, who I do not know (never heard of him), said he left & is on the open arms Fake News circuit. Said to be a real 'stiff'. They will take anyone against us!"

Mr Taylor, on his personal Twitter account, shared the president's message, adding: "Alas, I'll take the bait. Haven't forgotten you though! I guess the only way to prove it is to tell some stories. Maybe until the election. What do you think?"

Attached to the post is a photo of Mr Taylor giving a thumbs up while standing next to the president, seated at his desk in the Oval Office.

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