Discussing the claim that Russia is making a specific “play” to boost President Trump’s reelection bid on “The Story” Monday, Jarrett said he spoke privately with a “key official” involved with the matter who called the media narrative “completely overstated.”
“Any information was overstated,” Jarrett told host Martha MacCallum. “There are several sources, national security sources who have told members of the media including CNN, but I have talked to one key official as well who said that this is completely overstated.”
The New York Times and CNN reported last week that top U.S. intelligence officials had told lawmakers earlier this month that Russia wanted to help Trump win reelection. CNN has since walked back that report.
Also last week, The Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence officials had briefed Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russia was trying to help his campaign too, although it was unclear how or why the alleged support for the self-described democratic socialist was occurring.
Trump has portrayed those reports as nothing more than evidence of a continued vendetta from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who played a starring role in the impeachment effort.
“The intelligence official, who didn’t go to Donald Trump, went to Schiff’s committee first, and overstated that Moscow preferred Donald Trump in the 2020 election and misled the committee,” Jarrett said. “As a consequence, it led to distorted reporting by the media, mass hysteria ensued [and] the president’s political opponents piled on.”
MacCallum pointed to reports that Sanders was briefed about Russian efforts to help his presidential campaign up to a month ago, while Trump remained largely out of the loop.
“Every department and agency in the executive branch reports to the President of the United States,” Jarrett said. “So Donald Trump wasn’t upset that the intelligence committee was debriefed, he was upset that they debriefed them first and not him. He had to hear it secondhand from somebody on the committee.”
Jarret said it was up to the acting Director of National Intelligence to inform the president on all matters that would prove to be “beneficial to the president of the United States to help him on national security matters and foreign policy.”
“Here, they are running to a committee on the House instead of going to the president. No wonder the president is suspicious,” Jarrett added.
Last week, Trump announced he plans to name ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as the acting director of national intelligence (DNI).
“He has his work cut out to sort of clean up the bureaucracy there that may have tried to undermine the president of the United States,” Jarret said.
Grenell would take over from the current acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, amid the president’s push to remove what he calls “bad actors” at the highest levels of the FBI and other agencies.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.