Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Friday, Feb. 21, acknowledged that he was briefed by U.S. intelligence officials about Russian attempts to interfere in the Democratic primary race to help his campaign, reported the Washington Post.
According to the Post, President Donald Trump and congressional lawmakers have also been informed of the Russian attempts. Sanders, in a statement to the press, disavowed the alleged interference from Kremlin to help him win the 2020 election.
“I don’t care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president,” Sanders said. “My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.”
“In 2016, Russia used internet propaganda to sow division in our country, and my understanding is that they are doing it again in 2020. Some of the ugly stuff on the Internet attributed to our campaign may well not be coming from real supporters,” he added.
Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that lawmakers on Capitol Hill received briefings on Russia having “developed a preference” for President Trump to be re-elected. But the president has pushed back against the reports, accusing Democrats of pushing a “misinformation campaign.”
Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to, after two weeks, count their votes in Iowa. Hoax number 7!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2020
Sanders described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “thug” in his statement and blamed the Trump administration for not standing up against Russia’s efforts.
“Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts, and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” he said.
Sanders on Friday told reporters on the campaign trail that he learned of Russian interference efforts “about a month ago,” and seemingly suggested that the information was made public Friday—one day before the Nevada caucuses, in a bid to damage his campaign.
Sanders tells reporters he learned about Russian interference in his campaign about a month ago.
But asked why it came out now, Sanders points to the fact that the NV caucuses are a day away. And adds sarcastically, “Washington Post? Good friends.”
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) February 21, 2020
Sander’s reaction has ignited uproar on social media with Twitter users raising questions over his silence on the issue.
“Sanders knew about 2020 Russian interference on his behalf for a month and told none of us. Then blames the media for it becoming public.” a Twitter account named Marcus H. Johnson wrote.
Sanders knew about 2020 Russian interference on his behalf for a month and told none of us. Then blames the media for it becoming public. https://t.co/rl1ogfaRQw
— Marcus H. Johnson (@marcushjohnson) February 21, 2020
#BREAKING: “Bernie Sanders briefed by US officials that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign”
Let’s look at how Bernie voted on Russian sanctions:
2012 Magnitsky Act – nay
2014 Russia Sanctions – nay
2017 Russia Sanctions – nay
2019 Russia Sanctions – did not vote pic.twitter.com/s9lZ6wyIgj
— Adam (@AdamJSmithGA) February 21, 2020
Another Twitter user asked why voters could not learn of Russian interference from the Intelligence Community instead of media outlets.
Instead of hearing about Russian interference in our elections via leaks to the NYT and Wapo, wouldn’t it be better for the Intelligence Community to tell us all? Declassify & let voters know what is going on? Haven’t we learned any lessons from 2016? https://t.co/aJpTZ6kvij
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) February 21, 2020
It’s unclear why the Vermont senator kept silent about the Kremlin’s incursion into the 2020 election but during the previous election Sanders made false claims on reporting Russian efforts.