White House adviser Sebastian Gorka said that the Trump administration must "move on" from Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election. Speaking in an interview with host Jake Tapper on CNN's "The Lead," Gorka said that the White House is considering a number of different options with regard to Russia in the spirit of "cooperation."
In December 2016, Barack Obama retaliated against Russia for its alleged attempts to influence the 2016 election. Obama increased sanctions, expelled Russian diplomats, and shut down two Russian compounds: one in New York and another in Maryland. When Tapper asked Gorka about the compounds, Gorka said that the United States needs to find the way to deal 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."
There are global issues, Gorka said, in which the US can cooperate with Russia after moving on from the election. When Gorka was asked why Trump would move on despite warnings from the intelligence community about Russia, Gorka described his boss as being pragmatic about Russia. Gorka noted comments recently made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has a relationship with Russia and President Vladimir Putin that dates before his service in the Trump administration. "We should have better relations," Gorka said. "Let's see if it's possible and not prejudge."
There are issues to discuss, Gorka said, such as the fighting in Syria, while noting that the US and Russia announced a ceasefire in part of Syria before the G20 meeting. Seeing as an example of building relations with Putin and Russia, Gorka said, "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: "We have to move on in the interests of US national security and saving innocent lives," Gorka said.
In the contentious interview, “Why does President Trump continue to second-guess the assertions being made by his own intelligence chiefs?” Gorka responded with a question of his own: Do you wish us to have bad or deteriorating relations with the nuclear power that is the Russian federation? In whose interest is that?” Tapper answered, “The United States doesn’t dole out rewards to countries because they possess a nuclear weapon,” and added, “We’re not going to reward China or Pakistan.” Gorka explained: “We’re not looking to create new enemies. That’s a very dangerous way to look at the world.” He called Trump a “pragmatist” for his desire to improve Russian relations, adding that his reputation as “the most successful real-estate magnate in New York” proves he “looks at the world as it is.”
“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?” Tapper asked. Laughing, Gorka answered, "The last thing you could say about Donald J. Trump after the last 35 weeks is that he’s weak.” “So what’s the punishment?” Tapper answered.
“Look at what we did at the G-20,” Gorka answered. “Let’s talk about facts.” Tapper shot back, “So what’s the punishment for Russia? I’m asking about Russia.”
Gorka responded by pointing out that Trump spent more than two hours with Putin, grilling him about election tampering. “[Trump] pressed, he pressed, the president of the Russian Federation denied, and, at that point, you have to move on.” When Tapper asked “Why?,” Gorka answered, “Because people are dying in Syria. That’s why, Jake. Do you not care about the devastation, the half-a-million people killed?”
In an interview with Spero News, analyst Paul Goble said that the current obsession in Washington circles over the supposed meddling by Russia in the election is hindering Trump’s wider political agenda and his goals for relations with Russia, which include increased business for American petroleum firms and thus jobs for Americans. A veteran observer of Russia and critic of Putin, Goble said that he doubts that Russia sought to influence that recent presidential election so as to favor one candidate over another. Russia's goal, he said, is to sow confusion in the American public over their political institutions and stymie the agenda of whichever president is in office in order to advance Russian interests.