With President Trump hospitalized for coronavirus, a top White House official warned against any attempt by U.S. rivals to take advantage of a situation that security experts said presents a fertile ground for interference and disinformation.
White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Mr. Trump remains in charge and that any attempt by adversaries to seek an edge would be a mistake of “serious magnitude.”
“I think our adversaries know that the United States government is steady at the tiller and that we’re protecting the American people,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday.
In an interview with the Journal, Mr. O’Brien, who last week met with a top Russian official in Geneva, said U.S. alerts haven’t been raised and there was no expectation that rivals such as North Korea, Iran, China and Russia were likely to pose a new threat.
“Any attempt by an adversary to take advantage of the fact that the president has been diagnosed with Covid[-19] would be a mistake of serious magnitude,” he said Friday in the interview. “I don’t expect any country to make that mistake.”
Other officials said that there has been no known threat of significance made by adversaries since Mr. Trump became ill. Mr. Trump tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday and was hospitalized Friday at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
Mr. O’Brien said Sunday that he expects to brief Mr. Trump, joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley on the national security situation. Defense Secretary Mark Esper is traveling in the Middle East. The briefing, which was to be conducted Sunday by video teleconference with Mr. Trump, is routine and not in response to any particular threat,