Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on “Fox & Friends” Friday morning that the sanctions President Barack Obama had imposed over alleged Russian hacking during the U.S. presidential election were “utterly useless.”
“We really need to get past the politics of this because if even a piece of what is alleged about this Russian activity is true, it is utterly unacceptable,” Bolton said. “It is an attack on our constitutional system.”
Obama announced the sanctions package on Thursday, which includes barring several Russian intelligence agencies and officers from traveling to the U.S. or trading with American companies or individuals. He also ordered 35 Russian diplomats to leave.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would not expel anyone in response for now. But Putin said he would wait for the actions of Trump, who will take office on Jan. 20, before deciding on any further steps in relations with the U.S.
Bolton, who was touted as a secretary of state contender until Trump nominated Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson this month, believes Russia should pay an even larger price. He wants the U.S. to “make the Russians feel pain.”
“It is not enough to say ― and people should be very careful about this ― they say, ‘Well, it didn’t actually have an impact on the election,’” Bolton said. “The fact that Russian efforts were incompetent or insufficient shouldn’t make us feel better.”
If Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor and all of its bombs and torpedoes had missed, no Americans killed, no ships sunk, would we have said no harm, no foul? No, it’s the effort that they made, if this is accurate, that should trouble us. Not the fact that it failed.
Bolton’s comments differ greatly from many of his party members. Trump has brushed off mounting evidence from the FBI and CIA indicating that Russia hacked U.S. government servers to swing the election in favor of Trump. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) even implied Thursday that the Russians would have done Americans a favor if they had illegally hacked into the servers.
“If it is really true, the response should be much stronger,” Giuliani said, appearing to agree with Bolton.
Though Bolton said Trump could simply reverse the sanctions if he wanted to, he hoped that the president-elect would focus on increasing “cyber offensive and defensive capabilities” to combat hack attacks from foreign adversaries in the future.