He may have honeymooned in Communist Russia, but Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders asserts that honeymoon is over. On Friday the socialist warned Russia to stay out of U.S. elections after The Washington Post reported U.S. officials revealed Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign.
“The intelligence community is telling us they are interfering in this campaign, right now, in 2020. And what I say to Mr. Putin, if elected president, trust me you are not going to be interfering in American elections,” Sanders told reporters in Bakersfield, California.
Sanders, a self-declared socialist, has a long history with Russia, having chosen it for his honeymoon while it was still in the grips of Communism and millions filled its gulags. Sanders also campaigned for the Socialist Workers Party in the 1980 and 1984 presidential campaigns and was investigated by the FBI for his ties to the Marxist group. In 1964, while attending the University of Chicago, Sanders joined the Young People’s Socialist League, the youth wing of the Socialist Party USA. He also organized for a communist front, the United Packinghouse Workers Union, which at the time was under investigation by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
Sanders said in 1972: “I don’t mind people calling me a communist.”
The latest revelation stated it was not clear what form the Russian assistance took, the paper said.
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Some are questioning the report and its timing as Sanders is poised to win the Democrat nomination for President according to recent polls. The Washington Post, who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, famously made allegations about alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign which the Mueller report later found to be false.
On Saturday, political pundits were asking if the story on Russian support for Sanders was also a ploy to sap support from the socialist so that a mainstream Democrat would win the nomination. The tactic, they say, is similar to the allegations by Democrats against the Trump campaign.
Still, Sanders was forced to defend himself against the allegations.
“I do not consider Vladimir Putin a good friend,” Sanders said in a statement released following the Washington Post report. “He [Putin] 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 … I stand firmly against their efforts and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election.”
“Some of the ugly stuff on the internet attributed to our campaign may well not be coming from real supporters,” he added.
Sanders, in his statement, attributed the “extraordinary grassroots organization,” “grassroots fundraising” and “agenda that speaks to the needs of working-class people” as contributing to “the strongest campaign to defeat Donald Trump.”
The 78-year-old socialist from Vermont is considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and is favored to win the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.
Sanders said he was briefed about possible interference about a month ago.
“We were told that Russia, maybe other countries, are going to get involved in this campaign,” he told reporters, according to Reuters. “Look, here is the message: To Russia, stay out of American elections.”
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“What they are doing, by the way, the ugly thing that they are doing — and I’ve seen some of their tweets and stuff — is they try to divide us up,” he added. “They are trying to cause chaos. They’re trying to cause hatred in America.”
Sanders appeared to have lied at the latest Democrat debate in Las Vegas when he said there was no indication of Russian meddling. That after he had been briefed on it four weeks earlier.
The Kremlin on Friday denied that Russia was interfering in the U.S. presidential campaign to boost Trump’s re-election chances, following reports that American intelligence officials warned Congress about the election threat last week.
“These are more paranoid announcements which, to our regret, will multiply as we get closer to the [U.S.] election,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, reported Reuters. “They have nothing to do with the truth.”
Sanders was one of the first to support investigations into allegations Russia attempted to help the Trump campaign.
–EPTimes and wire services