2020 candidate Bernie Sanders has now responded to a Washington Post report that Russia is trying to help his campaign.
“I don’t care, frankly, who (Russian President Vladimir) Putin wants to be president,” Sanders said in a statement to the Post. “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,” Sanders continued.
Sanders’ droves of online supporters have been in the spotlight this week as his rivals accuse them of using toxic rhetoric and intimidation on social media. Sanders indirectly blamed Russia for his supporters’ reported behavior, suggesting at Wednesday’s Democratic debate in Nevada that Russia may be trying to pit Democrats against one another.
“All of us remember 2016, and what we remember is efforts by Russians and others to try to interfere in our elections and divide us up,” Sanders said. “I’m not saying that’s happening, but it would not shock me.”
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.”
Here’s the video: pic.twitter.com/JpOljo2PIE
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) February 21, 2020
WashingtonTimes reports the Russian government is trying to boost Sen. Bernard Sanders’ presidential campaign, according to a report the candidate appeared to confirm Friday — though he vehemently denounced the effort.
It’s not clear what form the assistance is taking, but American intelligence officials informed the Sanders campaign of the attempt, The Washington Post reported.
Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election are still roiling the political scene four years later. That makes Russia’s latest effort deeply contentious as Democrats are trying to pick their nominee to face President Trump.
Mr. Sanders issued a statement denouncing the assistance and calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “an autocratic thug.”
He also used the revelations of Moscow interference to explain recent campaign hiccups where Sanders supporters have been accused of vile attacks on other Democratic contenders.
Mr. Sanders said those may not be supporters but Russian trollsg, and reportedly has benefited the Trump campaign. The new revelation suggests that the meddling is in fact similar to 2016, with efforts assisting both sides.