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Bernie Sanders hits Russia on report of election help22 February 2020

'My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections,' says Vermont senator

Senator Bernie Sanders, a front-runner in the Democratic nomination for president, slammed Russia on Friday following a report that said Moscow is trying to help his presidential campaign.

The senator from the state of Vermont accused U.S. President Donald Trump of being a "good friend" with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying Moscow was seeking to undermine "American democracy."

His statement came in response to a Washington Post article that said Sanders was briefed by U.S. officials that Russia is attempting to help his presidential campaign as part of an effort to interfere in the Democratic race.

"I don’t care, frankly, who 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," said Sanders.

The newspaper said Trump and congressional lawmakers were informed about Russian assistance to the Vermont senator.

It was not clear how Russians helped Sanders.

The report came after claims by U.S. intelligence officials that Russia was meddling in the 2020 election to help Trump win.

Earlier in the day, Trump said it was a "misinformation campaign" by Democrats.

"Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to, after two weeks, count their votes in Iowa," Trump tweeted.

Sanders won the New Hampshire primary last Tuesday, the second contest in the race for Democratic presidential candidates, with more than 26% of the vote.

He was followed by former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 24% and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar with 20%, according to ABC News.

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