It’s uncommon for former prominent members of Donald Trump’s team to say unflattering things about him on the record, which made Tom Bossert’s comments yesterday so notable.
Bossert, who served as the Republican’s top homeland-security adviser in the White House, spoke to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos yesterday, and the host noted Trump’s efforts to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help with, among other things, information on a crackpot conspiracy theory.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, what the president is referring to there is a debunked conspiracy theory that somehow Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the Democratic e-mails in 2016 and that Ukraine might have the DNC server or Hillary’s emails. The details are both convoluted and false. And during your time in the White House, you explained that to the president, right?
BOSSERT: I did. It’s not only a conspiracy, it is completely debunked…. At this point I am deeply frustrated with what [Rudy Giuliani] and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again, and for clarity here, George, let me just again repeat that it has no validity. The United States government reached its conclusion on attributing to Russia the DNC hack in 2016 before it even communicated it to the FBI, long before the FBI ever knocked on the door at the DNC.
So a server inside the DNC was not relevant to our determination to the attribution. It was made up front and beforehand. And so while servers can be important in some of the investigations that followed, it has nothing to do with the U.S. government’s attribution of Russia of the DNC hack.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet the president keeps on repeating it.
In the same interview, Bossert added, “The DNC server and that conspiracy theory has got to go, they have to stop with that, it cannot continue to be repeated in discourse…. If [the president] continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down. Enough.”
At a certain level, this may seem like painfully obvious advice, but remember, Bossert was the top voice in the Trump White House on matters related to homeland security and cybersecurity. For him to share his unmistakable frustrations with a national television audience over the president peddling nonsense was rather striking.
It was, as best as I can tell, the first example of a former administration official publicly rebuking Trump for his behavior related to the Ukraine scandal.
For what it’s worth, on the same episode of This Week, Stephanopoulos also spoke to Rudy Giuliani, who may have missed everything Bossert had to say.
GIULIANI: November of 2016, [Ukrainian officials] first came to me. And they said, we have shocking evidence that the collusion that they claim happened in Russia, which didn’t happen, happened in the Ukraine, and it happened with Hillary Clinton. George Soros was behind it. George Soros’ company was funding it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you accept now that that’s not true?
GIULIANI: I accept that it is true. I can prove it.
No, Rudy, you can’t. As Bossert put it, “Enough.”
Postscript: In the same interview, Giuliani said he’d consider cooperating with a congressional investigation, but only if House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is “removed.”
As a rule, those caught up in scandals and accused of criminal wrongdoing don’t get to make demands as to who asks the questions.