Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., addresses the media prior to a Get Out the Early Vote rally at Valley High School in Santa Ana, Calif., on Friday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Sen. Bernie Sanders said Friday that U.S. officials briefed his campaign that Russia has attempted to meddle in the 2020 presidential election, specifically to boost his bid.
The Washington Post was the first to report on the interference, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.
Speaking to reporters in Bakersfield, Calif., Sanders said officials told him about the attempted interference a month ago.
"It was not clear what role they're going to play. We were told that Russia, maybe other countries, are going to get involved in this campaign, and look, here's the message to Russia: Stay out of American elections," he said.
"And 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. "That's what they did in 2016 and that is the ugliest thing they are doing -- is they are trying to cause chaos, they are trying to cause hatred in America. It's an ugly business and all of us have got to say, sorry, you're not going to do this in this election and again, as president of the United States, Mr. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, you will not interfere in our elections."
Sanders implied during Wednesday's debate in Las Vegas that Russia -- or a similar effort -- could be behind discord between apparent Sanders supporters and a culinary union in Nevada that declined to support the senator.
"All of us remember 2016, and what we remember is efforts by Russians and others to try to interfere in our elections and divide us up. I'm not saying that's happening, but it would not shock me," he said Wednesday when asked about the dust-up.
Special counsel Robert Mueller, investigating the 2016 presidential election on behalf of the Justice Department, and multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that Russia attempted to meddle in the 2016 presidential campaign. The state-driven action largely involved the use of social media accounts spreading false or incendiary information online.