“It is not clear what form that Russian assistance has taken,” the Post reported.
The revelation comes on the heels of reports Thursday that lawmakers were last week briefed on Russia’s preference for President Trump in 2020 — a briefing that reportedly prompted President Trump to dress down his acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. Trump had earlier this week announced that McGuire was stepping down and that Twitter-gadfly-turned-Ambassador Richard Grenell was assuming the acting role for the time being.
In a statement, Sanders bashed the apparent efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2020 election and said that, “Unlike Donald Trump, I do not consider Vladimir Putin a good friend.”
“My message to Putin is clear: stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do,” Sanders said.
According to the Daily Beast’s report Thursday on the briefing lawmakers got on Russia’s Trump-friendly interference, Shelby Pierson, an aide to Maguire, told the Hill that the meddling Russia had engaged in 2016 had never stopped.
Friday’s Washington Post report did not provide much detail about what Sanders and others were told about the help Russia was trying to provide Sanders.
Sanders told reporters that he was briefed on the effort about a month ago and that he was told other countries may try to interfere in the election.
The various investigations into Russia’s 2016 revealed that, while Russian actors sought to damage Hillary Clinton, they also aired pro-Sanders material on social media.
“The IRA’s left-leaning accounts focused their efforts on denigrating Clinton and supporting the candidacy of either fellow Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders or Green Party candidate Jill Stein, at the expense of Hillary,” the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Russia’s social media efforts said.
Sanders statement on the latest revelations of Russia’s efforts suggested that Russia might be behind some of the toxic online rhetoric often attributed to his supporters.
Read Sanders full statement on Washington Post’s report below:
“Unlike Donald Trump, I do not consider Vladimir Putin a good friend. He is an autocratic thug who is attempting to destroy democracy and crush dissent in Russia. 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.
“I don’t care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president. 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.
“In my view, because of our extraordinary grassroots organization, because of our grassroots fundraising and because of our agenda that speaks to the needs of working class people, we are the strongest campaign to defeat Donald Trump and that is exactly what we will do.”