George W. Bush: ‘clear evidence Russians meddled’ in 2016 election

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Former President George W. Bush said during a summit Thursday in the United Arab Emirates there is evidence Russians meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

The former president, speaking in Abu Dhabi at a conference put on by the Milken Institute, said there is “pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled.”

“Whether Russia affected the outcome is another question,” Bush said. “It’s problematic that a foreign nation is involved in our election system. Our democracy is only as good as people trust the results.”

U.S. intelligence agencies agreed in 2016 that Moscow was responsible for meddling in the election — prompting multiple investigations into President Donald Trump‘s campaign over potential collusion with Russian agents. Trump said in November he’s “with our agencies” on their assessment, but added he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin “feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election.”

Bush criticized Putin during his remarks, describing him as “zero-sum.”

“He can’t think, ‘How can we both win?’ He only thinks, ‘How do I win, you lose?’” Bush said.

“He’s got a chip on his shoulder. The reason he does is because of the demise of the Soviet Union troubles him. Therefore, much of his moves are to regain Soviet hegemony … That’s why NATO is very important.”

Bush has previously spoken out about Russia’s influence in the 2016 election.

In October, Bush said the Russian government “made a project of turning Americans against each other.”

“Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions — including cyber-attacks, disinformation and financial influence — should not be downplayed or tolerated,” Bush said at the time. “This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.”

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