US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Sunday singled out China, North Korea and Iran as countries who could possibly meddle in American elections — as President Donald Trump railed about a probe into Russian interference in 2016.
Trump himself pointed the finger of blame on Saturday, tweeting: “All of the fools that are so focused on looking only at Russia should start also looking in another direction, China.”
When asked about the tweet, Bolton also mentioned Beijing, which is currently at an impasse with Washington on trade talks.
“I can say definitively that it’s a sufficient national security concern about Chinese meddling, Iranian meddling and North Korean meddling that we’re taking steps to try and prevent it,” Bolton told ABC News. “So all four of those countries, really.”
When pressed for further details, especially with relation to China, Bolton was vague, saying he could not offer details.
“I’m telling you (that) looking at the 2018 election, those are the four countries that we’re most concerned about,” he told the network’s “This Week” news program.
Trump has intensified his attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and whether his campaign team colluded with Moscow to sway the contest in the Republican’s favor.
On Sunday, the president called the probe “McCarthyism at its WORST!”
Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2018
Bolton arrived in Israel on Sunday for discussions focused on Iran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office issued a statement Sunday saying the premier looked forward to discussing ways to roll back what he described as “Iran’s aggression in the region.”
Bolton was quoted by Hebrew-language media as having told Netanyahu that Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs were “right at the top of the list” of issues to discuss.
Speaking to ABC, Bolton also said that getting Iranian forces to withdraw from Syria was a goal shared by the Washington, Jerusalem, and Moscow.
“Certainly the objective of the United States, of Israel, President Putin said it was Russia’s objective is to get Iran — Iranian forces, Iranian militias, Iranian surrogates out of the offensive operations they’re in in both Syria and Iraq and frankly, to end Iran’s support for Hezbollah,” he said.
Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed terror group which seeks Israel’s destruction.
He said Putin did not view Russia’s interests as aligned with Iran’s in Syria, despite the two nations’ forces fighting alongside each other to uphold the regime of Bashar Assad.
“I think President Putin is very candid in his comments to President Trump, he was to me as well,” Bolton said. “He said he didn’t – didn’t have the same interest as Iran in Syria. And that he’d like to talk about ways to get them out.”
ToI staff contributed to this report.