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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

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
12 mins ago - Technology

Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal complicates Big Tech regulation

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Microsoft's surprise $68 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard is adding a fresh twist to the heated debate over which tech companies have monopolies that need to be reined in.

The big picture: The deal could force a question the company has happily ducked for a decade: whether its size and power make it just as deserving of regulatory scrutiny as its Big Tech rivals.

Biden to announce plan to distribute 400 million masks for free

Photo: Ken Cedeno/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration will announce Wednesday that 400 million non-surgical N95 masks will be made available to the public for free at thousands of "convenient locations" across the U.S.

Why it matters: This is the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history, according to a White House official. The masks are slated to be available at numerous local pharmacies.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

The end of the Omicron wave is in sight

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The Omicron wave is likely beginning to recede in the U.S., experts say.

Why it matters: Omicron is still wreaking havoc in parts of the country, but infectious disease experts are optimistic that relief is around the corner.