Bernie Sanders was informed by U.S. officials “that Russia is attempting to help his presidential campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic contest,” according to a report from the Washington Post. According to people familiar with the situation, President Trump and Congress have been informed about Russia’s assistance efforts.
In 2016, Russia used social media to boost the Sanders campaign against Hillary Clinton, but it is not clear what form their 2020 efforts to help Sanders have taken.
Bernie seemed dismissive of the news that Russia is trying to help his campaign.
“I don’t care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president,” Sanders told the Washington Post. “My message to Putin is clear: stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.”
Yeah, I’m sure Putin is really shaking in his boots.
During the Las Vegas debate, Sanders implied that Russia was behind a social media campaign to sow division amongst the Democratic Party by masquerading as Bernie supporters using inflammatory rhetoric. “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,” he said. “I’m not saying that’s happening, but it would not shock me.”
Social media analysts, however, were skeptical of that theory. According to Graham Brookie, director of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council, “We have seen no evidence in open sources during this election cycle that an online community of Sanders supporters, known as Bernie bros, were catalyzed by what Sanders suggested could be ‘Russian interference.’” Brookie also cautioned against candidates publically floating Russian interference theories. “Any candidate or public official casually introducing the possibility of Russian influence without providing any evidence or context creates a specter of interference that makes responding to real interference harder.”
It’s hard to imagine a better Putin puppet than Bernie Sanders. As National Review noted back in 2015, “During Bernie’s mayoral tenure, Burlington formed an alliance with the Soviet city of Yaroslavl, 160 miles northeast of Moscow. When in 1988 he married his wife, Jane, [Bernie Sanders] decided it would be a perfect place for his honeymoon.” Sanders has also visited many socialist countries over the years and sung their praises.
Russia may be trying to divide Americans, but let’s face it, if Putin really wants an ally in the White House, any Democrat would do, but Bernie Sanders would be ideal.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis