Bolton: No disconnect between Trump, administration officials on Russian interference

Bolton: No disconnect between Trump, administration officials on Russian interference
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National security adviser John Bolton on Sunday said there is no disconnect between President TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE and his top intelligence officials on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election, even as the president continued to label the issue a "hoax."

Bolton said on "Fox News Sunday" that the president directed five of his national security officials to speak at a White House press briefing last week to detail efforts to deter future election meddling.

"I think what he’s saying by the 'hoax' is the idea that the Russians somehow directed and controlled his campaign … that there was some conspiracy, that there was some violation of U.S. law in 2016," Bolton said.


"Everybody who participated in the press conference, as has the president, said that the intelligence community assessment of Russian meddling in 2016 is valid," Bolton added.

Bolton said the idea that there's a disconnect between the president and his administration on the issue is a "press narrative," though there have been clear rhetorical divides between the president and his top officials.

Bolton last Thursday joined Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsBiden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Former Trump officials including Fiona Hill helped prepare Biden for Putin summit: report Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? MORE, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenEx-Trump official: 'No. 1 national security threat I've ever seen' is GOP Left-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' MORE, FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone, who detailed their agencies' efforts to address election meddling.

Each individual specifically called out Russia, and warned that they continue to see Russian efforts to interfere. 

"In regards to Russian involvement in the midterm elections, we continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States," Coats said.

Trump, however, has at times cast doubt on that conclusion. He drew significant backlash after he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, when Trump noted Putin's "powerful" denials of Russian interference.

Trump later expressed confidence in the intelligence community's assessment that Russia meddled, but has undercut that message by repeatedly referring to Russian interference as a "hoax," and labeling the special counsel investigation into the matter a "witch hunt."

At a rally on Saturday, Trump suggested that China and North Korea could also be to blame.

Bolton said Sunday that Russia was "the principal violator in 2016 and their activity this year puts them in the lead," but added that it "does not exclude the potential for others to meddle."