President Trump will convene a meeting Friday of the National Security Council on election security, a session that could include a discussion of possible Russian interference in November’s midterm elections, according to a White House official. In addition, national security adviser John Bolton plans to hold two NSC Principals Committee meetings this week, one Thursday on Iran and one Friday on North Korea, according to the White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans. Friday’s NSC meeting comes a week and a half after Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Trump was roundly criticized for his comments at a news conference there siding with Putin — who has denied that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election — over U.S. intelligence agencies, which have concluded based on evidence that Russia did interfere. In the days that followed, Trump waffled between saying he has full faith in the U.S. intelligence agencies and casting doubt on Russia’s election interference. He tweeted last weekend that “it is all a big hoax.”
But when he sits down Friday with his national security team — which includes Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and intelligence and military chiefs — Trump is expected to be confronted with the government’s latest intelligence regarding election threats, including from Russia.
It was unclear what Friday’s agenda entailed, but it would be striking to convene a meeting on election security without delving into the Russian threat — especially as the president is under scrutiny for his warm overtures to Putin.