Ex-Trump advisor McMaster: 'No doubt' Russia interfered in UK and US politics

4 October 2020, 11:42 | Updated: 4 October 2020, 12:11

HR McMaster speaks to Tom Swarbrick on danger of China, Russia and NK

By Megan White

There is “no doubt” that Russia interfered in UK and US politics, Trump’s former national security advisor has told Swarbrick on Sunday.

H. R. McMaster, who worked within the Trump administration from 2017 to 2018, said Vladimir Putin was trying to “reduce confidence in our democratic principles” by interfering in the West.

Speaking to LBC, the former security advisor said Putin’s campaign was “one of disruption and disinformation and denial.”

Mr McMaster said: “They want to drag us down. Putin doesn’t have a lot going for him, so he can’t compete with us on our own terms.

“So I think what Putin has in mind is to be the last man standing and to really polarise us, to pit communities against each other and to reduce our confidence in our democratic principles and institutions and processes.”

He added: “It’s very damaging [for democracy], especially when we’re our own worst enemies, whenever we give Putin room to manouvre, and whenever we don’t have civil discussions around these challenges that I discuss in the book.

“What I’m hoping with the book, and the discussions we can have around these challenges, will help bring us together and make us less vulnerable to Putin’s playbook and the sustained campaign of political warfare essentially against us.”

Asked what he thought of Trump’s comments that he “didn’t see any reason why” Russia would have interfered in the US election, Mr McMaster said: “I can’t understand it.

“I had left the job by then so I was at Lake Tahoe on vacation, as perplexed as anyone.

“What’s regrettable about those sorts of statements is it gives Putin room.

“His campaign is one of disruption and disinformation and denial.”

He continued: “It was maddening, for sure, but what I try to do in Battlegrounds is place that in context of three administrations who had this illusion of better relations with Vladimir Putin – you might recall President George W Bush said he looked into Putin’s soul and saw a man who cares deeply about his people.

“Then President Obama said he wanted more flexibility after the election to have a better relationship with him, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Obama administration brought the reset button to Geneva.

“They were all bound to be disappointed and I think President Trump, if he has a second term, he’ll be disappointed too.

“I wish he would just learn from even our most recent experience and just skip that whole learning process and start at disappointment and realise that we all have to work to really parry Putin’s playbook.

“We can do that in a number of ways, but first and foremost it’s not giving him the space to deny his egregious actions against us.”

Mr McMasters also discussed the US’ relationship with North Korea, saying that the strategy of engagement with Kim Jong Un was “not a success.”

He said it was “worth trying” to get North Korea to get rid of their nuclear weapons but said it would be “irresponsible” to take military action against the country.

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