Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has reportedly been briefed by United States officials that Russia is trying to interfere with the election in order to help him win.
Sources close to the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that Donald Trump and other lawmakers have also been informed of what Russia is doing, according to The Washington Post. This comes after American prosecutors found that Russia had infiltrated the 2016 election to try and have Sanders get the Democratic presidential nomination over Hillary Clinton, who ultimately came out victorious before losing to Trump.
“I don’t care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president,” Sanders said in a statement about these new developments. “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,” he continued. “Some of the ugly stuff on the Internet attributed to our campaign may well not be coming from real supporters.”
A spokesman for Sanders refused to comment when asked for specifics on the briefing.
This is ironic given the fact that Sanders often rants about foreign interference in elections, and has slammed Trump for not doing more to address this.
“Let me be clear: We must not live in denial while allowing Russia and other state actors to undermine our democracy or divide us,” Sanders said last month. “Russia targets the divisions in our society; we will work to heal those divisions.”
During Wednesday’s Democratic debate, Sanders appeared to try and blame Russia when he was confronted about the behavior of some of his supporters on social media.
“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.”
Social media analysts, however, were not buying that Russian operatives are posing as Sanders supporters online.
“We have seen no evidence in open sources during this election cycle that an online community of Sanders supporters, known as Bernie bros, were catalyzed by what Sanders suggested could be ‘Russian interference,’ ” said Graham Brookie, director of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council, which tracks false information on social media sites. “Any candidate or public official casually introducing the possibility of Russian influence without providing any evidence or context creates a specter of interference that makes responding to real interference harder.”
We will see if Sanders continues to rant against election interference now that he knows Russia is in his corner.