Bolton says Russia, China seeking to promote discord in Trump administration

Bolton says Russia, China seeking to promote discord in Trump administration
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White House national security adviser John BoltonJohn Robert BoltonBolton presses Iran to withdraw forces from Syria, areas of conflict Bolton: Sanctions, other pressure will bring Iran to bargaining table Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need Congress to approve Iran strikes in interview with The Hill | New sanctions hit Iran's supreme leader | Schumer seeks to delay defense bill amid Iran tensions | Esper's first day as acting Pentagon chief MORE on Tuesday downplayed disagreements between President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE and his top aides and suggested Russia, China, Iran and others are attempting to spread disinformation about the administration's inner workings.

Bolton sat for an interview at The Wall Street Journal's CFO Network event, where moderator John Bussey noted Trump contradicted his advisers' views on North Korea and Iran in recent weeks.

Bolton initially skirted a question about whether the disconnect signaled instability to allies and adversaries, instead pointing to a potential source for the narrative.

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"We have substantial reason to believe that North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Russia and China have made a decision to — and you can see it publicly — to try to sow disinformation about the administration," Bolton said. "And to say that the president and his advisers are divided, things like that."

Bolton pointed to comments from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif last month in which he suggested Trump was being goaded into a confrontation with Iran by a "B team" of advisers.

He offered no further evidence, but accused the U.S. press corps of being "stenographers of these regimes" in spreading stories about administrative discord.

"That’s unfair," Bussey interjected.

"Not it’s not, actually," Bolton said, citing a New York Times report that he claimed overemphasized his absence at a recent state dinner in Japan.

He asserted there's "no discombobulation at all" and that disagreements within administrations are common in most governments.

The Trump administration has been dogged by persistent examples of Trump undercutting his own advisers' public comments dating back to the early days of the administration.

Trump broke with Bolton during last month's visit to Japan when the president said he was not bothered by recent missile testing conducted by North Korea. Bolton and U.S. allies had said the tests violated a United Nations Security Council resolution.

The president has also sounded a more optimistic note than Bolton on Iran, saying repeatedly in recent weeks that he believes Tehran will be willing to negotiate a new nuclear accord. Bolton has previously advocated for regime change in Iran.

In other instances, the president publicly differed with former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions Leaked Trump transition vetting documents show numerous officials with 'red flags': Axios Bolton says Russia, China seeking to promote discord in Trump administration MORE on diplomacy toward North Korea, and he contradicted U.S. intelligence agencies in saying he took Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTop Democrat accuses White House of obstructing review related to Trump-Putin communications Trump on addressing election interference with Putin: 'I may' Beware the Bolton path to US military strikes on Iran MORE's denials of Russian election interference.