Washington Post: US officials told Sanders that Russia is trying to help his campaign

US officials have told Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign as part of their efforts to meddle with the Democratic primary contest, people familiar with the matter told the Washington Post.

US officials have told Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign as part of their efforts to meddle with the Democratic primary contest, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.

It remains unclear how Russia is attempting to help Sanders, the paper reported.

News of the briefing to Sanders — who is topping the Democratic field in polls after strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire — comes after the intelligence community’s top election security official delivered a briefing to lawmakers last week warning them that intelligence officials believe Russia is taking steps to help President Donald Trump win, three sources familiar with the matter have told CNN.

Sanders said in a statement Friday that “Unlike Donald Trump, I do not consider Vladimir Putin a good friend.”

“He 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 and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts, and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” he said.

Sanders added: “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.”

Asked at Wednesday night’s debate about online aggression from some of his supporters, Sanders replied, “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.”

US intelligence officials have continued to consistently warn about Russia’s ongoing efforts to interfere in American elections, noting threats to both the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential race.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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