Gorka: Time to move on from Russian election interference issue

Story highlights

  • Gorka said the WH wanted to try to cooperate with Russia
  • He said it was time to 'move on'

Washington (CNN)A White House official on Thursday said the administration had to "move on" from Russia's 2016 election interference, allowing for the possibility that the United States could return two compounds on US soil to the Russian government.

The move would reverse a significant Obama administration rebuke for election meddling.
    Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, said in an interview on CNN's "The Lead" with Jake Tapper that the White House was considering a number of actions in the spirit of "cooperation."
    Under then-President Barack Obama, the United States took several retaliatory steps against Russia over alleged attempts to influence the 2016 election. The administration increased sanctions against several individuals and entities, expelled diplomats and closed down two Russian compounds -- one in New York and one in Maryland. Days later, the US intelligence community issued a report accusing Russia of specific actions to influence the election to bolster President Donald Trump's candidacy and hurt the Clinton campaign.
    When asked specifically by Tapper about those two compounds, Gorka said the United States needs to find ways to work with Russia.
    "We want to give collaboration, cooperation, a chance," Gorka said. "The fact is we may not share the same philosophy. We may not share the same type of statesman view of the world. But the fact is there are some issues of common concern."
    He stressed a desire to work with Russia on global issues and "move on" from the election, signaling no desire from the administration to dole out punishments on Russia for election interference.
    Asked why Trump would move on despite the warnings of his intelligence chiefs about Russian efforts, Gorka described Trump's position on Russia as pragmatic and pointed to recent comments from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaling a desire by the United States under Trump to work with Russia, despite accusing it of interfering with the US elections.
    "We should have better relations," Gorka said. "Let's see if it's possible and not prejudge."
    Tapper pressed the point, asking Gorka: "You don't think it's weak at all to let Russia go after having interfered in the 2016 election with no punishment at all?"
    Gorka said "the last thing" one could say about Trump was that he was weak, and that Trump had pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin on the matter at a meeting last Friday.
    "The President of the Russian Federation denied," Gorka said. "At that point, you have to move on."
    He said Trump had to move on to address other issues, like ongoing fighting in Syria.
    Gorka pointed repeatedly to a recent ceasefire agreement in part of Syria that the United States and Russia announced after the meeting between Trump and Putin, citing it as an example of how Russia could re-establish a relationship with the United States.
    "If we can see acts of good faith come out of the Kremlin with regards to things such as the ceasefire, then perhaps there is a chance for what Rex Tillerson wants to see happen, which is an improvement in relations between our two capitals," Gorka said.
    Echoing comments from Trump himself, Gorka contended that moving on would strengthen US security.
    "We have to move on in the interests of US national security and saving innocent lives," Gorka said.