John Bolton Tells Moscow Radio That Russian Meddling Had Little Effect On Elections
Amidst escalating tensions with the world’s second largest nuclear power, John Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, claimed Monday that Russian meddling “hardly had any real effect” in the country’s elections.
During a two day visit to Moscow this week to meet with top Russian officials, Bolton spoke to a local radio station, Echo of Moscow, saying, “I told our Russian colleagues that their meddling in our election process had hardly had any real effect.”
Multiple U.S. and NATO intelligence agencies have released reports linking Russian officials with the widespread hacking and misinformation campaigns that plagued the 2016 presidential election.
Members of the U.S. intelligence community have warned that the threat of Russian hacking did not go away after the last election.
“We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told reporters in August.
Social media companies like Twitter and Facebook began taking steps to limit Russia’s online influence. Twitter recently released a trove of data exposing thousands of fake accounts linked to Russia.
The Russian government has repeatedly denied any and all allegations of interfering with America’s election process.
Bolton’s visit to the Russian capital came just days after President Donald Trump announced his intentions to withdraw the United States from a bilateral nuclear arms treaty with Russia.
The treaty, known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, was signed by Former President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, banned the use and production of all short and medium range nuclear missiles,
The treaty stood as a landmark victory in the deescalation of Cold War era tensions between the two nations.
During a rally in Nevada on Saturday, Trump told his supporters that he intended on pulling out of the treaty due to concerns of Russian rearmament.
“Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years … and we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to,” said Trump.
Although China was not a signatory to the arms treaty, Trump included the nation in a later announcement, saying that he would begin developing new weapons to add to the nations arsenal if Russia and China did not agree to cease production of nuclear arms.
Officials in Moscow responded to the president, saying that backing out of the treaty “would be a very dangerous step.”
U.S. allies like France and Germany expressed their concerns over Trump’s announcement. However, leaders in the U.K., where two Russian agents were exposed after an attempted assassination of a former Russian intelligence official living in the country, backed President Trump’s new stance.
“The United States is not disguising, but is openly starting to develop these systems in the future, and if these systems are being developed, then actions are necessary from other countries, in this case, Russia, to restore balance in this sphere,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.
“You have to hand it to the Russians for their deft handling of this. The U.S. pulled out of a treaty the Russians never liked,” said U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Burt.
Burt, who was a leading member of the team that helped negotiate the original treaty, told reporters that Trump was doing a “god-awful” job at negotiating the nation’s nuclear program.