Bolton tells Russians that U.S. election meddling ‘sows enormous distrust’


MOSCOW (Reuters) – U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said on Monday that Russian meddling in U.S. elections did not have any effect on the outcome, but told Russian officials that it did “sow enormous distrust of Russia” in the United States.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton answers questions from reporters during a news conference in the White House briefing room in Washington, U.S., October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia carried out a campaign of hacking and propaganda targeting the 2016 U.S. presidential election in an attempt to sow discord, disparage Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and aid Republican Donald Trump’s candidacy. Putin has denied any such meddling.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Congress are investigating the interference and any possible collusion by Trump’s campaign. Trump has repeatedly denied there was any collusion.

“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 radio station Ekho Moskvy during his visit to Moscow, according to a transcript provided by the White House.

Bolton added that he told the Russians: “You shouldn’t meddle in our elections because you’re not advancing Russian interest.”

He also called the meddling “a major obstacle” to achieving agreement on issues where the two countries have a shared interest.

Earlier, Reuters reported Bolton’s statements according to the radio station’s translation of his English remarks into Russian.

The U.S. government charged a Russian national on Friday with playing a financial role in a Kremlin-backed plan to conduct “information warfare” against the United States, including attempts to influence next month’s congressional elections.

Reporting by Maxim Rodionov in Moscow and Yara Bayoumy in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken

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