Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, defended the administration against a “fake news” assertion that Russians are intentionally helping President Trump by interfering in the election on Sunday’s edition of “Meet the Press.” Short said it is difficult to say Russia prefers Trump over Sen. Bernie Sanders after killing Russian soldiers in Syria and slapping sanctions on the country while the Democratic presidential candidate honeymooned in the Soviet Union.
CHUCK TODD, ‘MEET THE PRESS’ HOST: I want to get you to respond to something that the former Admiral William McRaven wrote in The Washington Post. He said this, “In this administration, good men and women don’t last long. Joe was dismissed for doing his job, overseeing the dissemination of intelligence to elected officials who needed that information to do their jobs.” Admiral McRaven’s no partisan hack. MARC SHORT, PENCE CHIEF OF STAFF: I respect Admiral McRaven’s point of view. But he doesn’t know what he’s talking about here. He’s not part of the administration. I’ve seen the president interact with Admiral Maguire. He respects Admiral Maguire. And as I just said to you several times, he’s looking to find another role for Admiral Maguire inside our administration. CHUCK TODD: Why can’t the president say he wants to deter Russia from interfering in the election? His first reaction was, “It’s made up. It’s Democrat disinformation.” MARC SHORT: He does want to stop foreign interference in our election — CHUCK TODD: He never says it. MARC SHORT: — He has taken multiple steps at the Department of Homeland Security. And I think you’re going to see, he got a briefing on what’s happening. And he said, you know, “I think we should be having a briefing here at the White House in the next couple weeks so we can tell the American people how we’re making sure that our voting is safer.” He wants to do that and he’ll be doing that in the next few, couple weeks. CHUCK TODD: Does he believe the Russians are interfering in the elections to try to help Bernie Sanders? MARC SHORT: Look, Chuck, I think the reality is it’s hard to suggest that when this administration has taken steps time and again to sanction Russia harder than any president since Reagan, this president actually took steps and actually killed Russian mercenaries on the battlefield in Syria, that Russia would prefer to have Donald Trump than a person who, Bernie Sanders, who honeymooned in the Soviet Union and still seems to prefer Marxism over capitalism. CHUCK TODD: The president though continues to use a Russian talking point when it comes to the 2016 interference, when he brings up things like CrowdStrike in that phone call. So on one hand, the administration sanctions Russia. The president himself, using the bully pulpit, lets Russia off the hook. MARC SHORT: The president has taken multiple steps to make sure that our elections are safer. He has taken many steps to sanction Russians. Those are not things just the administration does. They have to go to the president’s desk. He’s the one that signs off on those, Chuck. He has taken more steps to make sure that America’s safer from Russian interference.