ABC’s Jonathan Karl tries to corner John Bolton over cancelling CNN interview: ‘Is it really appropriate?’

National security adviser John Bolton appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and it didn’t take long before President Donald Trump’s latest tiff with CNN came up.

The White House cancelled an interview Bolton was scheduled to do with the other network after an exchange between the president and CNN’s Jim Acosta during a news conference in the U.K. and Jonathan Karl asked Bolton about that decision, even as he likened Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin in his “authoritarian effort to undermine a free press.”

Never mind that CNN all but dedicates 24-7 coverage to destroying this president — not that Bolton was up for playing the role of media patsy to slap the president.

Dismissing the reference to Putin, Bolton reminded Karl that Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with brutal Russian dictator Joseph Stalin and that didn’t seem to bother liberal Democrats at the time.

Karl redirected Bolton to Trump’s actions and whether it contributed to an effort to undermine a free press, much like Russia does.

“I think the question’s silly,” Bolton replied.

“Is it really appropriate to deny a news organization access to a White House official because a reporter tried to ask a question at a press conference?” Karl asked, after he referenced the cancelled CNN interview.

“In reality, I don’t seek out the press, I don’t talk to them,” Bolton said. “I appear when I’m asked to, and if I’m not asked to appear, I don’t do it.”

He added that he doesn’t communicate with the press, directing Karl to verify this by consulting “your friends in the Washington press corps whom I don’t communicate with.”

With Trump set to meet with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, Karl asked about Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicting 12 Russian intelligence officials for hacking into U.S. systems during the 2016 elections.

“I would say in fact, it strengthens his hand,” Bolton said of the indictments coming before their meeting. “I think the president can put this on the table and say this is a serious matter.”

But he said Trump will not demand that Putin expedite these individuals back to the U.S.

“It’s pretty silly for the president to demand something that he can’t get legally,” Bolton said. “And this is a very serious matter.”

“The Russians take the position, you can like it or not like it, that their constitution forbids them to extradite Russian citizens,” he added. “They have an agreement with the Europeans that looks a lot like an extradition treaty. Europeans, frequently, tried to use that to get the Russians to extradite their nationals and they flat out refused to do it.”

But making such a request would certainly enable the president’s critics to then say Russian President Vladimir Putin was snubbing the U.S.

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Tom Tillison

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