Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Tuesday that the President and other lawmakers are “making it easy” for Russian President Vladimir Putin by promoting conspiracy theories about US election integrity and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
“It’s just wrong,” McMaster told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.” “It’s making it easy for Vladimir Putin. And I think it’s really important for leaders to be responsible about this because, really, as you know Putin doesn’t create these divisions in our society, he doesn’t create these doubts, he magnifies them.””And we just have to be really careful not to be our own worst enemies,” McMaster added.Despite repeated warnings from intelligence officials and his own FBI director that Russia is carrying out a blatant attack on American democracy, Trump summed up his views at a rally on Monday in very simple terms: “I like Putin, he likes me.”The President has consistently expressed a personal affinity for his Russian counterpart since taking office nearly four years ago. But the fact that his latest comments come as US intelligence agencies are sounding the alarm about Moscow’s ongoing interference in the 2020 election offers a stark reminder that Trump has no problem with foreign meddling if it appears to help him politically.Read MoreNow on his fourth national security adviser, the President’s approach to Russia has faced some fierce criticism from those that used to hold the position. Along with McMaster, former national security adviser John Bolton has repeatedly assailed Trump’s Russia strategy, telling CNN in July that “everybody understood the nature of Russia’s activities — with the possible exception of the President.” Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned abruptly in 2017 amid claims he misled the administration over his communications with the Russian ambassador to the US before Trump took office.And while Trump and several top Republican allies have recently sought to cast China as the greatest threat to the election, evidence continues to emerge suggesting Russia is not only already interfering, as FBI Director Christopher Wray explicitly told House lawmakers last week, but it is doing so at the direction of Putin and other senior Kremlin officials, according to a Washington Post report published Tuesday.Asked about Russia’s reported interference, McMaster said: “This is what they do.””Really what they’re trying to do overall, Jake, is reduce our confidence in our Democratic processes. And this is what they did obviously in 2016 and it’s really part of a sustained campaign of political subversion,” he told Tapper.The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned the public Tuesday that foreign actors might spread disinformation about the results of the 2020 election and encouraged voters to be patient with delayed results. The warning advised Americans to get information from “trustworthy sources” like official government election websites. The warning also said Americans, when dealing with reports of problems with voting or results, should “verify though multiple reliable sources” and think twice before sharing unverified material on social media.McMaster assessed that Putin was “happy” that Trump did not condemn the Kremlin over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny — even though leaders from around the world have pinned the blame on the Russians.”He’s happy about it,” McMaster said of the President’s response, adding, “I think it’s immensely important for us to be responsible, to pull the curtain back on their activity and not buy into the Russia narrative when it might be convenient to do so from a partisan political perspective.”McMaster served under Trump as national security adviser from early 2017 until April 2018, when he was replaced by Bolton.This story has been updated with additional information Tuesday.