ASPEN, Colorado. – Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Thursday she has not seen evidence that the Russians meddled in the 2016 election, to help elect Donald Trump, the control of the AMERICAN intelligence agencies’ assessment.
These offices closed in the beginning of 2017, when President Vladimir Putin ordered “influence campaign” aimed at helping the Trump campaign, and damage to Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
“I have no evidence that the attempts to intervene in our election of the infrastructure was to favor a certain party,” she said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. “What we have seen in the foreign influence side” is the Russian attempts to “cause chaos on both sides.”
Yet Nielsen still says she stands behind the intelligence services’ assessment that Russia meddled in the election. Pressed to explain her seemingly contradictory remarks, she said, “I agree with intel’s assessment, full stop.”
They said: there is no question in the intelligence community or the Department of Homeland Security, she leads that Russia tried to infiltrate and interfere with the AMERICAN electoral system.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that they did it,” she said. “I think that we all need to be prepared … that they do it again.”
Nielsen said that America would be foolish to think that the Russians are not yet focused on the US and that it must be “absolutely willing to believe that they will try to intervene in all 50 states.”
In the area of immigration, Nielsen talked about the controversial “zero tolerance” policy that it criminally prosecutes anyone crossing the border illegally, and how the department is managing the reunification of more than 2,500 children separated from their parents as a result.
At a White House news conference in June, Nielsen said only the Congress can stop family separations. Two days later, the president signed an executive order to stop. When asked about the disparity, Nielsen said that the system remains broken, even when children are no longer separated, and that the Congress, there is still no need to act, to the broader reform.
She said that the security of the borders is suffering because the family is no longer criminally prosecuted for illegal entry, but she wants to see families kept together.
When asked what they thought about the separation of families is, and whether it was a good idea — she said: “I say all the time the system is broken. I say this is crazy.”
She said that the department was working on a court-ordered deadline to reunite children older than 5 on 26 July, but it would not cut back. Younger children have been reunited; but less than half were as a result of problems with the parents, the officials said.
“We have to protect children,” Nielsen said. “We need to make sure that the system allows us to provide families sand children together.”
Associated Press writer Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report.