Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) suggested to reporters Friday that a report by the Washington Post that Russia is attempting to boost his campaign was politically motivated.
The Post story, which broke Friday afternoon, said that Sanders had been briefed by U.S. officials on apparent Russian efforts to help his campaign, but did not say when the briefing took place. Questioned by reporters later Friday, Sanders said it happened “about a month ago.” When asked what he thought of the timing of the Post‘s story, he said “I’ll let you guess how, one day before the Nevada caucus,” and cast sarcastic aspersions on the Post.
In a statement to the Post, Sanders did not dispute the veracity of the claim that Russia was taking steps to assist his campaign. “My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do,” he said. Sanders added that the story could mean that “some of the ugly stuff on the Internet attributed to our campaign may well not be coming from real supporters.”
Sanders also said during Wednesday’s Nevada debate that “it would not shock” him if Russia was interfering in the election.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Shelby Pierson, the Intelligence Community official in charge of monitoring election threats, warned House lawmakers in a classified briefing last week that the Russians were attempting to boost President Trump in his bid for reelection.
Trump disputed the story on Twitter, claiming that it was part of a “misinformation campaign” spearheaded by Democrats.
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