Politics

No ‘Disjunction’ on Russian Election Interference, Bolton Says

Despite the media 'narrative' otherwise, the national security adviser said POTUS fully backs efforts to counter current and future meddling

Contrary to the media, there is no “disjunction” between President Donald Trump and “the rest of his administration” regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, national security adviser John Bolton said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Look, I know that there’s this narrative in the press that there is a disjunction between the president and the rest of his administration,” Bolton told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “The president knew exactly what was going to be said at the press briefing on Thursday. He’s the one who directed it be held.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone and Bolton briefed reporters at the White House about the government’s efforts to combat current and future Russian election interference attempts.

The briefing came a few weeks after Trump joined Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin for a joint press conference in Helsinki, Finland, in which he made several controversial statements about Russian election interference that he later clarified.

Many mainstream media members and Trump critics pointed to the press conference and Trump’s derision of the “Russia hoax” and “rigged” Russian collusion probe “witch hunt” as proof that Trump believes no meddling occurred.

But Bolton pointed to an example that former Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.) liked to use, in which he referred to the press as a “group of birds sitting on a telephone wire. One would fly off and then they’d all fly off.”

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McCarthy’s anti-Vietnam War insurgence in the 1968 Democratic presidential primary led to then-President Lyndon Johnson to withdraw from the race.

“That’s what I think this narrative is all about,” Bolton said, noting that when Trump uses the word “hoax,” he is referring to “the idea that the Russians somehow directed and controlled his campaign or directed and controlled his administration, that there was some conspiracy that there was some violation of U.S. law in 2016.

“Everybody who participated in [Thursday’s] press conference agreed, as has the president, that the intelligence community assessment of Russian meddling in 2016 is valid. The whole point of that was to show what his administration was doing to counter Russian meddling and other broader influence operations right now.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) believes special counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to finish his collusion probe unhindered, but he said on “Fox News Sunday” that he doesn’t believe evidence of collusion will turn up after all.

“I am comfortable in saying this: If there was evidence, strong evidence of collusion, I guarantee you it would have been leaked by now,” said Rubio, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“Obviously, [Trump] is annoyed by that investigation continuing to go on because it’s about him and he believes and has said repeatedly and emphatically that he did not collude with the Russians.”

Related: ‘I Would Physically Restrain My Client’ from Talking to Mueller, Wisenberg Says

“But let’s wait for the process to play itself out. I think that’s what should happen,” Rubio added. “Mueller shall continue and finish his work, and the truth should come out. And I think that’s in the best interest of everyone.”

Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s attorneys, said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week” that the president’s legal team is leaning toward “not” allowing him to sit down for an interview with Mueller as part of the probe.

Sekulow insisted that “with the amount of cooperation that has gone forward” with the investigation, it would be “hard for us to see why they need the president’s testimony. His legal team is concerned. The inclination is not at this point.”

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