Trump called reports of Russian interference 'rumors,' while Sanders' campaign claimed it could be a leak meant to damage his candidacy

Trump called reports of Russian interference 'rumors,' while Sanders' campaign claimed it could be a leak meant to damage his candidacy

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  • President Donald Trump again seized on reports citing US intelligence that Russia is interfering in the 2020 presidential election. 
  • Trump publicly brushed off reports that Russia was deploying similar efforts from the 2016 election, in which interference sought to benefit Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders in the high-tension race. 
  • In the days after campaigns and lawmakers were briefed on intelligence findings, Trump claimed Democrats were propagating a "rumor." 
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President Donald Trump seized on reports from last week that said American intelligence believes Russia is interfering in the 2020 presidential election to aid Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Trump tweeted  Saturday that "Democrats in the Great State of Nevada" should be "careful of Russia."

"Democrats in the Great State of Nevada (Which, because of the Economy, Jobs, the Military & Vets, I will win …) be careful of Russia, Russia, Russia," Trump wrote. "According to Corrupt politician Adam 'Shifty' Schiff, they are pushing for Crazy Bernie Sanders to win. Vote!"

A report from The Washington Post published Thursday first revealed the concerns over interference, saying the House Intelligence Committee had been briefed on Russia's efforts and triggered a reaction from Trump that led him to dismiss his acting director of national intelligence and replace him with a close ally and current ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell.

The Post then reported Friday that Trump and the Sanders campaign were briefed on Russia's efforts to help them. In response to the alleged efforts, Sanders issued a warning to Moscow.

"I don't care, frankly, who [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants to be president," Sanders said in a statement. "My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.

Trump jumped on the report at a Friday campaign rally, slamming his democratic opponents and casting the intelligence findings as "disinformation."

"I see these phoneys, the do-nothing Democrats," Trump said. "They said today that Putin wants to be sure that Trump gets elected. Here we go again. Here we go again. Did you see it? … Now I just see it again. I was told that was happening, I was told a week ago. They said you know they're trying to start a rumor. It's disinformation."

Adding to the tension over the new developments, Mike Casca, Sanders' campaign communications director alleged on Twitter that the story was deliberately leaked to damage the campaign.

"If you think this leak wasn't designed to hurt bernie, you're not paying attention," Casca wrote on Twitter. "It's very clear trump is nervous about facing him in the general election."

Sanders has seen a recent surge in national polls and emerged as the frontrunner in Saturday's Nevada Democratic caucuses.

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