President Donald Trump said he’s “going to mention” Russian meddling in U.S. elections during his upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin, and that the political fighting over the investigation into Russian interference is bad for the country.
“If Russia is in fact looking to sow discord or chaos, they’ve got to be saying, ‘This is the greatest thing we’ve ever done,”’ Trump said in an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” about a contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing on June 28 about the Russia probe.
Trump quickly pivoted during the interview from saying he would mention meddling with the Russian president, to complaining that the FBI didn’t take a computer server from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election season, and he said in a June 28 tweet that “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!”
But U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, who met with Putin last week in Moscow to lay groundwork for an upcoming bilateral meeting between Putin and Trump, also said Russian meddling will be discussed during the summit, which is set for July 16.
“The election meddling issue was definitely something we talked about,” Bolton said Sunday in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Bolton said Putin asserted that there was no interference by the Russian state but that there’s concern it’s happening before the 2018 midterms.
‘Still Worth Pursuing’
Bolton said in a separate interview with Fox News Sunday that he hasn’t changed his mind on previous intelligence regarding the election meddling, and the topic is “still worth pursuing” with Russian officials.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he’s concerned when Trump tweets that Russia denies interfering in the U.S. elections. Trump should confront Putin with the “overwhelming” evidence, Graham said, even using one of Trump’s favorite terms.
“The idea that Russia did not meddle in our election is fake news,” Graham said. “They did meddle in our election, and they’re doing it again in 2018.”
Meanwhile, Bolton declined to comment specifically on a report Sunday in the Washington Post that U.S. intelligence officials have concluded North Korea doesn’t intend to fully surrender its nuclear weapons, as Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised during their June 12 meeting in Singapore.
Bolton said on CBS there’s no “starry-eyed feeling” among U.S. officials about North Korean promises, but that if an agreement is reached, U.S. experts, with North Korea’s cooperation, could dismantle most of the nation’s cache of weapons of mass destruction “within a year.”