John Bolton, an adviser to Donald Trump and a likely pick for a top foreign policy position in his administration, suggested on Sunday that evidence of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election could be a “false flag” cooked up by the Obama administration.
The CIA has concluded that Russia intervened in the election with the express purpose of improving Trump’s chances, the Washington Post reported on Friday. In response, a bipartisan group of senators has called for an investigation into Russia’s role.
During an appearance on Fox News, Bolton laid out a different theory. Russia, according to Bolton, might not have been involved at all. Rather, the entire incident — including the hacking of Democratic and Republican emails — was a “false flag” operation perpetrated by the Obama administration.
A “false flag” is a clandestine operation designed to appear as if it is carried out by someone other than the entity responsible.
In other words, Bolton is suggesting that the Obama administration hacked the computers of the DNC and the RNC and then manufactured evidence to make it seem like Russia was responsible.
The outrageous charge seemed to shock Eric Shawn, the Fox News anchor.
“You actually accusing someone here in this administration of trying — in the intelligence community of trying to throw something?” he said.
“We just don’t know, but I believe that intelligence has been politicized in the Obama administration,” Bolton replied.
Bolton’s “evidence” for why it’s a “false flag” is bewildering. According to Bolton, the fact that U.S. intelligence found evidence the Russians were responsible for the hack is evidence that the Russians couldn’t be responsible.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Trump also dismissed the idea that Russia was responsible for the hacks or was trying to influence the election.
“I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s another excuse. I don’t believe it,” Trump told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
On Friday night, the Trump transition team released a statement slamming the CIA as “the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”
An emerging, bipartisan group of members of Congress is not so sure that Trump has it right. Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Jack Reed (D-RI) released a statement calling for a thorough investigation of the matter.
“Recent reports of Russian interference with the election should disturb every American,” the senators wrote.
Joint statement with Senators McCain, Schumer, and Reed on reports Russia interfered with the 2016 Election. pic.twitter.com/K4IXbbUADm
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 11, 2016
The top Republicans in Congress, Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have yet to support an investigation into potential Russian interference in the presidential election.