White House national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday the hacking of Democratic emails during 2016 campaign was a serious matter and he found it “hard to believe” that Russian President Vladimir Putin was unaware it.
In an interview on the ABC program This Week, Bolton said that one of the aims of President Donald Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki on Monday will be to press the issue of election interference.
Last week, a grand jury convened by special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence agents for hacking into the emails of Democratic campaign officials in the 2016 election – and then leaking unflattering emails about Hillary Clinton to the press via a website set up by the Russians.
Bolton noted that Putin has repeatedly denied any knowledge of Russian efforts to meddle in the U.S. election but he said the indictments cast doubts on the credibility of the Russian president’s assertions.
“I find it hard to believe, but that’s what one of the purposes of this meeting is so the president can see eye to eye with President Putin and ask him about it,’’ Bolton said.
Bolton said the Justice Department indictments ahead of the meeting strengthens Trump’s hands and shows that the agency is aware of the efforts to meddle in the elections.
“The president can put this on the table and say, ‘This is a serious matter. We need to talk about it,’’’ Bolton said.
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