U.S. Officials Inform Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump of Russia Election Meddling on Their Behalf: Report

U.S. officials told Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and President Donald Trump that Russia is meddling in the 2020 presidential election by helping their campaigns, according to new reports.

Sanders was informed last month, while Trump was informed last week of Russian attempts to boost their campaigns, sources familiar with the matter told The Washington Post and the Associated Press. The sources requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the intelligence. Trump has publicly denied the report, and blamed Democrats of pushing a "hoax."

"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!" Trump tweeted Friday morning.

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

Sanders, however, has previously warned of election interference. In January, he said, "Let me be clear: We must not live in denial while allowing Russia and other state actors to undermine our democracy or divide us. Russia targets the divisions in our society; we will work to heal those divisions."

Friday, the senator called again for an end to Russian meddling, and suggested that some of the bad press his supporters have received may, in fact, be a false flag to stir conflict in the Democratic presidential race.

"I don't care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president," Sanders told The Washington Post. "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," he added.

Russia has denied that the country has interfered in the 2020 election. Dmitry Peskov told the Associated Press Friday that the claims of meddling are "paranoid reports that, unfortunately, there will be more and more of as we get closer to the elections (in the U.S.). Of course, they have nothing to do with the truth."

Newsweek reached out to the Sanders campaign and the White House for further comment, but did not hear back by press time.

voting stock photo
U.S. officials have informed both Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and President Donald Trump that Russia is again meddling in the presidential election. Getty

In November, Robert Anderson, a former FBI agent and cyberwarfare expert, warned that Russia could meddle in the 2020 election after the country's interference in 2016.

"The Russians never left," Anderson said. "I can guarantee you in 2016 after this all hit the news, they never left. They didn't stop doing what they're doing."

In 2016, Russia's GRU military intelligence agency hacked into computers owned by the Democratic National Committee and stole information including election plans and internal polls, according to the FBI. Multiple intelligence agencies say in addition to working to boost Trump's campaign, Russia worked against the Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Trump has repeatedly said that Russia did not make the attack on the DNC, instead repeating a conspiracy theory boosted by Russian president Vladimir Putin that it was Ukraine that hacked the computers.