US election 2020: Sanders 'told of Russian effort to aid his campaign'

(BBC) – Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has condemned Russia for its reported attempts to help his campaign, telling it to “stay out of American elections”.

Mr Sanders said on Friday that US officials had told him last month about Russian efforts to aid his campaign.

Speaking in Bakersfield, California, Mr Sanders said it was not clear how Russia intended to interfere.

But the Vermont senator, 78, said he strongly opposed any attempts to do so.

He denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin as an “autocratic thug” whose government has “used internet propaganda to sow division in our country”.

“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,” Mr Sanders said.

Mr Sanders, a self-styled democratic socialist, is currently considered the front-runner in the race to win the presidential nomination for the Democrats.

Facebook said it has not seen any evidence of Russian assistance to Mr Sanders’ campaign.

On Friday, The Washington Post said US President Donald Trump and other US lawmakers had been informed of reported Russian efforts to assist Mr Sanders.

Senior intelligence officials also believe Russia has been seeking to interfere in November’s election with a view to helping President Trump win.

File photo: Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in 2017

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