Former US President George W. Bush says Russia meddled in 2016 US election

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Associated Press

Former President George W. Bush said on Thursday (local time) that "there's pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled" in the 2016 American presidential election, forcefully rebutting fellow Republican Donald Trump's denials of Moscow trying to affect the vote.

FILE- In this Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 file photo, former U.S. President George W. Bush speaks at a forum sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute in New York. Bush spoke Thursday at a summit in Abu Dhabi put on by the Milken Institute, an economic think tank based in Santa Monica, California. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Former U.S. President George W. Bush speaks at a forum sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute in New York.

Source: Associated Press

While never mentioning President Trump by name, Bush appeared to be pushing back on Trump's attempts to have warmer relations with Russia, as well as his comments on immigration.

The White House did not immediately comment on Bush's remarks.

"There's pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled," Bush said at a talk in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. "Whether they affected the outcome is another question."

Bush also said that "it's problematic that a foreign nation is involved in our election system. Our democracy is only as good as people trust the results."

US intelligence agencies have concluded Russia meddled in the 2016 election to help Trump win. Numerous investigations are under way to determine whether Trump's campaign aided the Kremlin in its efforts.

Trump has repeatedly denied any "collusion" with Russia.

Speaking of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bush called him "zero-sum."

"He's got a chip on his shoulder," Bush said of Putin. "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."

Bush also stressed the need to back NATO and other alliances the US has with the world.

Putin "is pushing, constantly pushing, probing weaknesses," the former president said. "That's why NATO is very important."

Bush also criticized Trump's decision to scrap a program implemented by former President Barack Obama's administration that allows young immigrants living in the US illegally who were brought here as children to remain in America.

"America's their home," the 43rd American president said. "They've got to get it fixed."

Bush acknowledged that he tried to overhaul America's "broken" immigration system, but failed.

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