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Trump backers cook up a bizarre 'false flag' conspiracy theory

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010.
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010.
Multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian officials deliberately intervened in America's presidential election, stealing Democratic documents and undermining Hillary Clinton's campaign. According to the CIA, the express purpose of this operation was to put Donald Trump in the White House.But some Trump allies have come up with an exceedingly creative alternative explanation. Politico had this report, which I should warn you, is not intended as satire.

Ambassador John Bolton claimed Sunday that hacks during the election season could have been "a false flag" operation -- possibly committed by the Obama administration itself.... "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," Bolton said. [...][Fox News] then asked Bolton -- who has been mentioned as a possible Trump appointment -- if he was accusing someone in "the administration or in the intelligence community of" the alleged false flag."We just don't know," Bolton said. "But I believe that the intelligence community has been politicized in the Obama administration to a very significant degree."

Bolton, by the way, is under consideration for a top post in the Trump administration -- and by some accounts, will soon be named the next Deputy Secretary of State. [Update: Bolton's office is denying the accuracy of Politico's reporting. See the penultimate paragraph below.]For those who might need a refresher, Politico added that a "false flag" refers to "a cover-up or distraction orchestrated by the government or other powerful figures."Carter Page, a pro-Putin former advisor to Donald Trump, is apparently also on board with the idea that the Russian cyber-attack on America's political system was a "false flag."We frequently deal with people making bad arguments, but there's always a spectrum. On one end, we see routine, unpersuasive claims, which some take seriously, but shouldn't. From there, the arguments escalate in seriousness, prompting a variety of colorful adjectives such as "bonkers" and "crazy."But the suggestion that the Obama administration, not Russia, was responsible for these crimes qualifies as hair-on-fire insanity.Think about this on a conceptual level: Bolton, the Bush/Cheney ambassador to the United Nations, believes it's possible that the Obama administration hacked into DNC and Clinton campaign computers, stole documents, and leaked them to anti-Clinton websites in order to embarrass the Obama administration's preferred candidate -- on purpose -- before Election Day.President Obama's team did this, the argument goes, in order to give the appearance of Russia helping Trump win the election.How anyone could believe such transparent nonsense is a mystery.For his part, Bolton is now arguing that this could've been a "false flag" operation launched by a different foreign government, and he claimed today he didn't suggest the Obama administration could be to blame. Here's the link to yesterday's Fox News appearance. Pay particular attention to the exchange around the 3:23 mark, when Bolton seemed to raise the possibility of Obama administration involvement.Postscript: As Right Wing Watch reminds us, Bolton's affinity for weird conspiracy theories is a bit creepy.