Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen earlier this year that any conversations about Russian meddling in the 2020 election shouldn’t be elevated to President Donald Trump because he still tied the subject to questions about the legitimacy of his own election, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

In the months before Nielsen was forced to resign earlier this month, she tried to focus the White House on preparing for Russia’s efforts to influence next year’s election, the publication reported. She became increasingly worried about Russia’s sustained efforts in the U.S. leading up to and after the 2018 midterm elections, officials told The Times.

But Mulvaney made clear that conversation shouldn’t reach Trump, saying it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level,” a senior administration official told The Times.

Nielsen eventually gave up on trying to convene a White House meeting of Cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to combat Russian meddling in 2020. Her frustrations were described to The Times by three senior Trump administration officials and one former Trump administration official.

Mulvaney said in a statement in response to…