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John Bolton: New indictment ‘strengthens’ Trump’s hand heading into Putin meeting

July 15, 2018

John Bolton: New indictment ‘strengthens’ Trump’s hand heading into Putin meeting

National Security Advisor John Bolton says the newly announced indictment accusing Russian military officers of hacking Democratic Party emails and interfering in the 2016 election strengthens President Trump’s hand heading into his Monday meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

“I would say, in fact, it strengthens his hand. It shows that the justice system, the Department of Justice, are aware of these Russian efforts at election meddling, and I think the president can put this on the table and say, ‘This is a serious matter. We need to talk about it,’” Mr. Bolton said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

The Justice Department on Friday announced that a grand jury had returned an indictment stemming from special counsel Robert Muellers’ probe that charged a dozen Russian military intelligence agents with stealing Democratic emails and using them to influence the 2016 election.

Mr. Bolton said when he recently met with Mr. Putin, the Russian president said the “Russian state” was not involved election interference.

But he said it’s hard to believe that Mr. Putin wouldn’t be aware of a scheme like the one laid out in the indictment of a dozen Russian military officers.

“I find it hard to believe, but that’s what one of the purposes of this meeting is, so the president can see eye-to-eye with President Putin and ask him about it,” he said.

Mr. Bolton also dismissed talk of Mr. Trump asking Mr. Putin to extradite the officials, pointing out that the U.S. doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Russia.

“I think it’s pretty silly for the president to demand something that he can’t get legally,” Mr. Bolton said.

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