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.” 

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.

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.

Another Twitter user asked why voters could not learn of Russian interference from the Intelligence Community instead of media outlets. 

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.

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