Bolton says he told Russians interference campaign had no effect on 2016 election

Bolton says he told Russians interference campaign had no effect on 2016 election
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White House national security adviser John Bolton said Monday that he told Kremlin officials he does not believe Russian interference had “any effect” on the 2016 election but that it has sown “enormous distrust” of Moscow within the United States.

Bolton, who is in Moscow for two days of meetings with officials there, also told Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy that he warned the Kremlin against interfering in U.S. elections going forward. 

“The point I made to Russian colleagues today was that I didn't think, whatever they had done in terms of meddling in the 2016 election, that they had any effect on it, but what they have had an effect in the United States is to sow enormous distrust of Russia,” Bolton told the radio station, according to text from the interview provided by the National Security Council.

“And it's a major obstacle to achieving agreement on issues where our national interest may converge, so I said, just from a very cold blooded cost benefit ratio, that you shouldn't meddle in our elections because you're not advancing Russian interest, and I hope that was persuasive to them,” Bolton said.

Bolton’s remarks came in response to a question about the Justice Department’s recent charges against a Russian woman for engaging in a conspiracy to influence the upcoming November midterm elections. 

Russian interference has attracted massive public attention for nearly two years and is currently under investigation by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerHouse progressive: Pelosi 'has it right' on impeachment Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna: 'I'm not there yet' on impeachment MORE, who is examining whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE’s campaign colluded with Moscow. Trump has consistently criticized the probe and said there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russian government.

The U.S. intelligence community made no assessment of whether Russia’s efforts in the 2016 election – which included hacking and releasing Democrats’ emails and spreading disinformation on social media – had an impact on the outcome of the 2016 election.

Officials say Russia also targeted state and local systems involved in the electoral process as part of the broader 2016 interference campaign, but maintain there is no evidence any vote tallies were changed.

Since then, officials have said they continue to observe Russia waging influence campaigns to impact American public opinion but that the activity has not risen to the level it did in 2016.

Bolton has previously raised the issue of Russian election interference in his meetings with Russians, warning that future meddling by any foreign nation will not be tolerated.

Bolton is in Moscow to meet with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu. Russian media reports have also indicated he is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, though the White House has said anything official on the subject.