The campaign of United States presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been briefed about an alleged Russian effort to assist his campaign. Reports of Russia’s assistance in the Vermont Senator’s campaign came a day after the US intelligence community reported that Moscow is taking steps to help President Donald Trump win reelection.
Top election security official Shelby Pierson told lawmakers that Russia is helping Trump to win and that the integrity of the election is in doubt.
Sanders denounces attempts by Moscow to interfere in US elections
Sanders quickly condemned any attempts by Moscow to interfere in the election on his behalf.
“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,” said Sanders.
“I don’t care, frankly, who [Russian President Vladimir] 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,” Sanders added.
Russia allegedly using hacking, social media to attack election infrastructure
Russia is reportedly attempting to take advantage of flaws in US cybersecurity to tamper in this year’s presidential election.
It is believed that Russia will attempt to use tactics similar to those used in 2016 when they hacked into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server and were responsible for social media trolling.
It wasn’t clear how the Russians were attempting to assist the Sanders campaign.
Trump fired director of national intelligence after allegations of Russian meddling
On February 14, a day after the then-acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire held a briefing with the House Intelligence Committee to discuss Russia’s interference in the US election, President Trump announced that Maguire would be replaced.
Maguire’s successor, Richard Grenell, currently the US Ambassador to Germany, is reported to be a close Trump ally.
Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election
According to US intelligence agencies, the Russians interfered in 2016 to help then-candidate Donald Trump win the presidential election over his rival, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
A team led by former FBI director Robert Mueller investigated the allegations and concluded that there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.