Updated Feb 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Report: Sanders says he was briefed on Russia trying to help his campaign

In this image, Bernie Sanders speaks into a microphone.

Bernie Sanders at a press conference in Santa Ana, California on Feb. 21. Photo: Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders told reporters at a campaign stop Friday that he was briefed by U.S. officials "about a month ago" on Russia's attempts to assist his 2020 presidential campaign, AP reports. "It was not clear what role they were going to play," he added.

Driving the news: Sanders' comments followed a Washington Post report that U.S. officials briefed Sanders on Russian efforts to help his 2020 campaign "as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic contest."

Yes, but: The Post's report does not include details on how specifically Russia may be trying to assist the Sanders campaign. “We were told that Russia, maybe other countries, are going to get involved in this campaign," Sanders said Friday at a California campaign stop, per AP.

The big picture: The nation's top election-security official warned the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia is interfering in the election to help President Trump get re-elected, the AP reports.

What else he's saying:

“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.”
— Bernie Sanders in a Friday statement to Axios

A Sanders campaign spokesperson declined to comment on the briefing to the Post. The campaign did not respond to Axios' requests for comment.

Go deeper: Russia has already won the fight to undermine U.S. elections

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