Bolton: Indictment of Russian hackers 'strengthens' Trump's hand in meeting with Putin

Bolton: Indictment of Russian hackers 'strengthens' Trump's hand in meeting with Putin
© Getty Images

National security adviser John Bolton said Sunday that the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers "strengthens" President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE's position heading into his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"[Trump] was perfectly prepared to have [the indictment] come before the meeting with Putin. I would say, in fact, it strengthens his hand," Bolton said on ABC's "This Week."

"It shows that the justice system, the Department of Justice, are aware of these Russian efforts in election meddling, and I think the president can put this on the table and say, this is a serious matter that we need to talk about," he continued.


Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' MORE handed down indictments on Friday against 12 Russian intelligence officers, alleging they interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. Mueller charged 11 of the officers with conspiring to hack into the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee networks. The other officer was charged with conspiring to hack into election systems, including a state elections board website.

The Department of Justice announced the charges less than three days before Trump was set to meet with Putin in Helsinki, prompting some Democrats to call for the summit to be called off.

Trump has not condemned Putin or Russia for the charges. He has instead cast blame on the Obama administration for failing to take more aggressive action in response.

Bolton on Sunday also refuted the thinking that Trump's repeated claims that Mueller's investigation is a "witch hunt" undermine his ability to press Putin on Russian meddling in U.S. elections.

Bolton said Trump's claims of a "witch hunt" refer to suggestions that "he’s a dupe for the Russian intelligence services, that he’s an agent of the Kremlin, that he’s been compromised by Russia, that he blinked to Russia, that he takes orders from Vladimir Putin."

"This indictment, a product of the Department of Justice, presumably met the Department of Justice guidelines which say that prosecutors have to believe that it’s substantially more likely than not that they can prove guilty beyond reasonable doubt as to every element of the offenses being charged," Bolton said. "And that I think is what strengthens the president."