Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders warned Russia on Friday to stay out of the 2020 elections after U.S. officials had told him Moscow was trying to aid his campaign.
In a statement he wrote: "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." (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "These people are crazy!" At a Las Vegas rally Friday Trump went on the attack -- against Democrats, not Russia -- and he mocked the findings from his own intelligence agencies that Russia was helping his campaign again.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "You know, they're trying to start a rumor.
It's disinformation...they said today that Putin wants to be sure Trump gets elected.
Here we go again..." Sanders' supporters grappled with the news Friday.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ARIZONA STAY AT HOME MOM AND BERNIE SANDERS CANVASSER (NOT PARTICIPATING IN NEVADA CAUCUSER), 44, MICHELLE VANGURP, SAYING:"[LAUGHTER] "This is, okay, so I think it's dumb.
If they are helping Bernie, they're doing a really lousy job of it, because all I hear on the news is smears, and horrible things, and the only people that are helping Bernie are the people on the streets." (SOUNDBITE) (English) BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER AND NEVADA CAUCUSER, 24, ALEXANDER REILLY, SAYING: “So I think it's really an attempt to sow discord among the various candidates, the various people representing the Democratic Party.” Supporters of former vice president Joe Biden said that Russia's alleged interference suggested the Kremlin thought Sanders was easier for Trump to beat than Biden.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) SHANNON O'KEEFE HALLGREN, 52, LIVES IN LAS VEGAS, RETIRED BALLERINA, SAYING: "Russia wants Bernie Sanders...because he'll be an easy guy to go against Trump.
And we can't have that." A source told Reuters that U.S. intelligence officials briefed members of the House Intelligence Committee in a classified briefing that Russia was again interfering in American politics ahead of November's election, as it did in 2016.
Since that briefing, Trump fired his acting intelligence chief, replacing him with a political loyalist as Democrats and former U.S. officials raised the alarm over national security concerns.