Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen earlier this year that any conversations about Russian meddling in the upcoming midterm elections shouldn't be elevated to President Donald Trump because he still tied the subject to questions about the legitimacy of his own election, The New York Times reported.
Nielsen became increasingly worried about Russia's sustained efforts in the U.S., but Mulvaney made clear that conversation shouldn't reach Trump, saying it "wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level,” a senior administration official told the Times.
"I don't recall anything along those lines happening in a meeting," Mulvaney said in a statement. He added that the administration "will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections, and we’ve already taken many steps to prevent it in the future," NBC News reported.
Special counsel Robert Mueller detailed in his report released last week that multiple advisers said that Trump was concerned that stories about Russian interference cast doubt over the legitimacy of his 2016 win, NBC News reported. Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner on Tuesday also downplayed Russian interference.