UPDATE: 9:40 p.m. ― John Bolton on Monday clarified his comments a day earlier suggesting election hacks that the intelligence community has blamed on Russia could have been a false flag operation.
Bolton said on “Fox & Friends” that the operation could have been carried out by China, Iran or North Korea, and he denied he meant to imply that the Obama administration may have been involved.”Typical bad reporting,” Bolton said.
Previously: The man reported to be Donald Trump’s pick for the number two job in the State Department says the election hacks could have been a false flag operation.
John Bolton told Fox News on Sunday that the hacks may not have been carried out by Russia, as the intelligence community believes, but implied the Obama administration itself could’ve been secretly responsible.
“It is not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside, that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag operation,” Bolton told reporter Eric Shawn.
“False flag” is a term that refers to covert activities undertaken by a government or other entity to advance its own political agenda by making it look as if someone else did it.
“A really sophisticated foreign intelligence service would not leave any cyber fingerprints,” he said. “So the question that has to be asked is why did the Russians run their smart intelligence service against Hillary [Clinton]’s server, but their dumb intelligence services against the election?”
Shawn called that a “very serious charge” and cited The Washington Post’s bombshell report that intelligence officials believe hackers with ties to the Russian government worked to help Trump win the election.
“Are you actually accusing someone here in this administration, in the intelligence community, of trying to throw something?” said Shawn.
“We just don’t know,” Bolton responded, claiming the intelligence community has been “politicized” under President Barack Obama.
Bolton later added, however, that if it turns out Russia did attempt to influence the election, “we should retaliate.”
There has been a growing bipartisan call for an investigation into the hack.
“This cannot become a partisan issue,” read a joint statement released on Sunday by senators from both parties. “The stakes are too high for our country.”
Bolton had been considered a possible candidate for secretary of state. However, a source told The Huffington Post on Saturday that he has been picked for the number two job, running the State Department’s day-to-day operations.