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Bolton says he warned Russian counterpart against 2018 election meddling

Bolton says he warned Russian counterpart against 2018 election meddling
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National security adviser John Bolton said he warned Moscow on Thursday against meddling in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections during a meeting with his Russian counterpart.

"I made it clear that we wouldn’t tolerate meddling in 2018, and that we were prepared to take necessary steps to prevent it from happening," Bolton told reporters following a meeting with Nikolai Patrushev.

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Bolton said the two sides talked about the issue "in a variety of ways," but that differences over the election interference prevented the two parties from putting out a joint statement at the conclusion of their meeting.

He added that the two sides will not resume sharing information on cybersecurity and technology in the wake of Thursday's meeting. 

"I don’t want to understate how much progress we made in other areas but in that area it was as I’ve described," he said.

Bolton's meeting with Patrushev marked the first face-to-face talks between officials from the two countries since President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland last month.

Trump attracted widespread criticism for his handling of that meeting, in which he blamed the U.S. for souring relations between the two countries and cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

While Trump later walked back those comments, he has continued to suggest that others besides Russia interfered in U.S. elections.

The Trump administration earlier this month hit Russia with sanctions after it blamed Moscow for the use of a nerve agent on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain earlier this year.

A BBC reporter asked Bolton on Thursday if, after developments this week involving Trump's former associates Michael Cohen and Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortFormer FBI agent sentenced to 4 years in jail for leaking to reporter The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan Mueller assembles team of cooperators in Russian probe MORE, he's concerned that the president poses a security risk.

"Of course not. I mean, that’s a silly question," Bolton responded.

"Honestly, have a little faith in the American people who elected him president," he added.

Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to eight felony charges, including two counts of violating campaign finance law by arranging payments to two women who say they had affairs with Trump.

Cohen told the court that he violated campaign finance laws at the direction of a candidate for federal office, implicating Trump without naming him.

Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, was convicted the same day as Cohen on eight financial fraud charges.