A new report that Russia is backing Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is being used by one Hillary Clinton supporter to explain Sanders’s voting record.
Producer-director Tom D’Angora, whose Twitter biography lists himself as “Hillarys #1 supporter & proud of it,” tweeted Friday that the allegation contained in a report by The Washington Post explains a lot.
“At least now we know why Bernie has voted the way he has on Russian sanctions? 2012 Magnitsky Act – nay 2014 Russia Sanctions – nay 2017 Russia Sanctions – nay 2019 Russia Sanctions – did not vote,” D’Angora tweeted.
At least now we know why Bernie has voted the way he has on Russian sanctions?
— Tom D’Angora (@TomDangora) February 22, 2020
All of the items cited by D’Angora sought to punish Russia.
The Magnitsky Act, named after Russian whistleblower Sergi Magnitsky who died after claiming Russian officials were corrupt, targeted officials considered responsible for his death to ban them from the U.S and from using American banks. Sanctions against Russia were imposed in 2014 after Russia’s occupation of Crimea, which is legally a part of Ukraine. The 2017 package of sanctions was approved in response to Russian election interference in 2016 as well as human rights abuses committed by Russia. The 2019 sanctions were related to Russia’s failure to renounce the use of chemical and biological weapons.
On Friday, The Post claimed that the Sanders campaign has been briefed by federal officials that “Russia is attempting to help his presidential campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic contest.”
The Post claimed its information came from “people familiar with the matter” whom it did not name, adding that President Donald Trump and Congress have also been briefed.
The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg jumped on the allegation.
This is a no-brainer for the Russians. They either nominate the weakest candidate to take on their puppet Trump, or they elect a socialist as President. https://t.co/hL9CnHM1MO
— Team Bloomberg (@Mike2020) February 21, 2020
Russia was accused of interfering to sow dissension during the 2016 election. Russian interference was also at the heart of disproven allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in 2016.
“I don’t care, frankly, who [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants to be president,” Sanders said in a statement. “My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.”
Sanders then used the claim to explain away accusations that his supporters on social media have become abusive to supporters of other candidates.
“In 2016, Russia used internet propaganda to sow division in our country, and my understanding is that they are doing it again in 2020. Some of the ugly stuff on the internet attributed to our campaign may well not be coming from real supporters,” he said.
In its reporting, The New York Times noted that Russia supported Sanders in 2016.
Sanders said that although the briefing about Russian interference took place a month ago, the timing of the Post report was not a coincidence, noting that it appeared “about one day before the Nevada caucus. Why do you think it came out?”
Neither the Post report nor Sanders explained what form the interference might take.
“Well, it was not clear what role they’re going to play,” he said, referring to Russia. “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,” Sanders said.
The Russia-Sanders connections caused a debate on Twitter.
Why would Russia possibly want to help Bernie Sanders’ campaign?
Could it be that he honeymooned in the Soviet Union?
Or that he’s praised Communist dictators?
Or that he wants to strengthen Russia by ending US oil production
I could only imagine why they’d back Bernie
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) February 22, 2020
On the eve of the Nevada caucus anonymous people leaked to the media that the “intelligence community” told Bernie Sanders that Russia is interfering to get him elected. This is a coordinated smear intended to hurt Bernie & it won’t stop here. Validating it is the wrong response.
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) February 22, 2020
The Post said the real interest of Russia is “in sowing division in the United States and uncertainty about the validity of American elections.”
That perspective was supported by one commentator.
“Russian attempts to sow discord in the Democratic primary would be consistent with its strategy of undermining Americans’ faith in democratic institutions and processes,” said Laura Rosenberger, a former National Security Council aide in the Obama administration who is now an election security expert with the Alliance for Securing Democracy. “We have seen consistent messaging from Russian sources pushing the narrative that the primary process is rigged, and driving the idea that the ‘establishment’ favors some candidates over others.”
“Many of us have been warning for some time that the Russians would likely try to drive divisions and discord in the Democratic primary, as they did in 2016,” Rosenberger said.
Although The Post reported that Russia also supports him, Trump called the claim “disinformation.”
“Wouldn’t he rather have Bernie, who honeymooned in Moscow?” Trump said during a Nevada really.
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