The Russian government is attempting to interfere in the 2020 presidential election by boosting Sen. Bernie Sanders campaign for the Democratic nomination, U.S. officials have told the Vermont politician and top U.S. lawmakers.
It was not clear how the officials described the Russian interference in the hotly contested primary fight, in which Sanders has recently surged into the lead, sources told The Washington Post in a story published late Friday.
“The intelligence community has been very clear about it [Russian interference],” Sanders told reporters in California on Friday after the story broke.
“The intelligence community is telling us they are interfering in this campaign right now, in 2020,” Sanders added. “I say to Mr. Putin, if elected president, trust me, you are not going to be interfering in American elections.”
Sanders said he was briefed about the Kremlin’s attempts to intervene in the 2020 election last month and questioned the timing of the story.
“I’ll let you guess about one day before the Nevada caucus,” said Sanders. “Why do you think it came out? It’s The Washington Post? Good friends.”
There were few additional details in the Post’s report and the broadsheet’s sources were not able to detail how the Kremlin is attempting to intervene in the 2020 race on Sanders’ behalf.
These latest developments come just days after a senior U.S. intelligence official briefed Congress that Russia had again “developed a preference” for Trump in the 2020 campaign, which infuriated the president.
Trump later sacked his acting intelligence chief, Joseph Maguire, and announced that his controversial ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, would temporarily take his place.
It’s the second time in as many presidential cycles that the Russians have attempted to intervene on Sanders’ behalf in a Democratic primary fight.
U.S. prosecutors determined that Moscow launched a social media campaign in 2016 to boost the self-described socialist’s insurgent bid against Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State and eventual Democratic nominee.
Prosecutors also found that Russian President Vladimir Putin kept using social media websites to like Facebook and Twitter to dog Clinton during the general election, which she narrowly lost to President Trump.
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