National security adviser John Bolton said Monday that he doesn't think Russian interference in the 2016 election had any real "effect" on the outcome.
Bolton appeared on a Russian radio show hosted by Olga Bychkova and was asked about the indictment of a Russian woman for trying to create chaos in the 2016 presidential and 2018 midterm elections. Bolton said he brought the issue up and that it was unacceptable.
"The point I made to Russian colleagues today was that I didn't think, whatever they had done in terms of meddling in the 2016 election, that they had any effect on it, but what they have had an effect in the United States is to sow enormous distrust in Russia," Bolton said. "And it's a major obstacle to achieving agreement on issues where our national interest may converge, so I said, just from a very cold-blooded cost benefit ratio, that you shouldn't meddle in our elections because you're not advancing Russian interest, and I hope that was persuasive to them."
Russian interference in U.S. elections is the main focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which has led to the guilty pleas of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, both of whom were involved in President Trump's 2016 campaign.
Bolton is in Moscow for discussions with Vladimir Putin and the Russian government about the U.S. exit from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
NOTE: Bolton's comments have been corrected upon viewing a transcript of his radio interview.