Ex-Trump campaign adviser: I believe Russia meddled in election

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Former Pentagon spokesman and Trump campaign national security director, JD Gordon, conceded that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential elections in an exclusive interview on Al Jazeera’s Head to Head programme. 

“I do believe that the Russian Government interfered in the US election, so that is not a hoax to investigate that,” Gordon told Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan in front of a live audience at the Oxford Union.

“I think that Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State was trying to destabilise Russia in 2014. I think that [Russian President Vladimir Putin] saw her as an enemy, and I think that he felt he wanted to attack the United States, and this is the way they did it,” Gordon said during the interview, which airs Friday at 20:00GMT. 

It was “cheaper than fighting a war” with the US, he added. 

However, Gordon said he does not believe Russia impacted the election as far as “swinging the vote”.

He insisted that accusations of collusion between Russia and US President Donald Trump himself were “a hoax” and referred to it as the “witch-hunt of the century”.

“You had people doing things they should not have been doing, taking meetings they shouldn’t have taken, travelling to places they should not have travelled to, but that’s not collusion; it is poor judgment, but it’s not collusion,” Gordon said. 

US indicts 12 Russians on 2016 election meddling charges

Thirty-two people have so far been indicted as part of an US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. 

Of the 32 indicted, 26 are Russian nationals, five are American and one is Dutch. Mueller has also brought criminal charges against three companies. 

Those charged include Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, who pleaded guilty last year to lying to investigators about his contact with Russian officials, as well as former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s longtime buisness partner and deputy campaign chair Rick Gates and campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.

All three worked out plea deals and have pledged to cooperate with the investigation. Manafort has also been charged on several counts. He has pleaded not guilty. 

Trump and his administration have repeatedly described the Mueller probe as a “witch-hunt”. National Security Adviser John Bolton announced on Wednesday that Trump will postpone a second meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin until next year after the federal investigation into alleged Russian meddling is over. 

“The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over,” Bolton said in a statement. 

‘He does like foreigners’

In the Head to Head interview, Hasan also asked Gordon what it was like working for a former reality television star who has come under fire for what some say is his lack of knowledge about the world and reported racist and bigoted comments about Mexicans, Muslims and African countries. 

Gordon called Trump “a brilliant man”, adding that he disagreed with the accusations of racism and claims that Trump dislikes foreigners.

“He does like foreigners,” he said. “Melania is from Slovenia.”

This Head to Head interview with JD Gordon will air on Friday, July 27 at 20:00 GMT and will be repeated on Saturday, July 28 at 12.00 GMT, Sunday, July 29 at 01:00 GMT and Monday, July 30 at 06.00 GMT. The interview will be available online on Friday at 20:00 GMT. 

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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