George W. Bush says Russia meddled in 2016 US election

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Former U.S. President George W. Bush speaks at a forum sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute in New York in 2017. | Seth Wenig-AP file photo

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Former President George W. Bush said on Thursday that “there’s pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled” in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

While never mentioning President Donald Trump by name, Bush appeared to be pushing back on Trump’s decisions on immigration, as well as trying to have warmed relations with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “is zero-sum,” Bush said at a talk in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. “He can’t think, ‘How can we both win?’ He only thinks, ‘How do I win, you lose?'”

Bush said it wasn’t clear if Russia’s “meddling” directly affected the election, though he said it was clear they tried.

“It’s problematic that a foreign nation is involved in our election,” the former president said.

Bush also said that the United States needs to reform its immigration law.

Bush in 2008 became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the UAE. He spoke Thursday at a summit in Abu Dhabi put on by the Milken Institute, an economic think tank based in California.

He made his comments while in a conversation with Michael Milken, known as the king of high-risk “junk” bonds in the 1980s. Milken pleaded guilty to securities-law violations in 1990 and served 22 months in prison. He agreed in a settlement with the SEC to a lifetime ban from the securities industry and paid a $200 million fine.

Milken, who is a prostate cancer survivor, and his family have given hundreds of millions of dollars away in recent decades. Forbes magazine estimates Milken, 71, is now worth some $3.6 billion.

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