Trump’s Potential State Dept. Deputy Suggests Russian Hacking A ‘False Flag’

December 12, 2016 11:06 a.m.

Donald Trump’s reported pick for deputy secretary of state alleged Sunday that reports Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election may be a “false flag” planted by the Obama administration.

“It’s 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,” former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton said in an interview on Fox News.

Bolton questioned why FBI Director James Comey said the agency did not find any “direct evidence of foreign intelligence service penetration” in its review of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, but found “cyber fingerprints” while looking into alleged hacks of the Democratic and Republican National Committees.

“The question that has to be asked is why did the Russians run their smart intelligence service against Hillary’s server but their dumb intelligence services against the election,” Bolton said.

Fox News’ Eric Shawn told Bolton that his allegation of a “false flag,” or secret government operation to influence events by making it seem like another entity is carrying them out, was “a very serious charge.” He pointed to a weekend Washington Post report citing CIA sources who claimed individuals with ties to the Kremlin tried to help Trump win by providing WikiLeaks with thousands of emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee.

Shawn asked if Bolton was accusing someone in the Obama administration of “trying to throw something.”

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

A spokesperson for Bolton disputed that the former U.N. ambassador was implying the Obama administration may have planted a “false flag.”

“The Ambassador has made it unambiguously clear that ‘false flag’ is a reference to foreign entities such as China, North Korea, Iran, etc.,” spokesman Garrett Marquis said in a Monday night email.

Trump and his top aides have dismissed reports of Russian hacking as an effort to undermine his victory.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it.”

Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told CBS’s “Face The Nation” that allegations that Russia tried to throw the election in his favor are “laughable and ridiculous.”

This post has been updated.

The TPM Journalism Fund: A New Way To Support TPM
We're launching the TPM Journalism Fund as an additional way for readers and members to support TPM. Every dollar contributed goes toward:
  • -Hiring More Journalists
  • -Providing free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • -Supporting independent, non-corporate journalism
Are you experiencing financial hardship?
Apply for a free community-supported membership
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: