Politics

Bolton Suggests Russian Hacking Could be ‘False Flag’

Deputy secretary of State possibility blames Obama administration for politicizing the issue

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said Russian hacking is too sophisticated to leave fingerprints. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images file photo)

John Bolton, who is rumored to be President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for deputy secretary of state, made waves Sunday when he questioned the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russian hacking had influenced the presidential election.

“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 said in an interview on Fox News. 

Bolton suggested Russian hacking capabilities would be too sophisticated to leave any sort of trace, asking Fox News’ Eric Shawn, “If you think the Russians did this, why did they leave fingerprints?”

Bolton, who served as United States ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, is widely known as one of the more hawkish members of the Republican foreign policy machine, and an outspoken critic of the U.N. His tenure lasted less than two years.

Though Bolton noted the importance of an independent investigation into the hacking, he suggested there might be political motives behind the current administration’s push.

“We just don’t know,” Bolton said. “But I believe that intelligence has been politicized in the Obama administration to a very significant degree.”

Bolton’s potential boss, Donald Trump, has also publicly challenged reports that Russia intervened to better his chances of being elected, telling Fox News he doesn’t believe the intelligence agencies’ findings. 

Last week, the agencies declared with “high confidence” that Russia actively worked to bolster Trump’s campaign over Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They also concluded with high confidence that Russia had most likely hacked into Republican National Committee computer systems, but didn’t release any of their findings, according to The New York Times

Documents from the Democratic National Committee were leaked to the public for weeks leading up to the election. Intelligence agencies believe the information was first given to WikiLeaks by Russian hackers. 

In the blowback from the intelligence community’s most recent announcement, the Trump transition office likened the situation to the false claims that Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction during the Bush administration.

High-ranking senators from both sides of the aisle issued a joint statement in response to the findings and Trump's subsequent denial. 

Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, soon-to-be Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer, Sen. Jack Reed and Sen. Lindsey Graham warned against letting the hack become a partisan issue. 

“Now our democratic institutions have been targeted,” the statement read. “Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American.

“Democrats and Republicans must work together and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyber-attacks.”

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.