House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Sunday said President Donald Trump “betrayed America” by allegedly making “false claims” surrounding warnings from intelligence officials that Russia is interfering in the 2020 presidential election to assist Senator Bernie Sanders.
Trump on Saturday told reporters at the White House that he was never informed about the warnings of election interference, after a Washington Post report,citing anonymous sources, said that he and other lawmakers had been briefed on the matter.
“I read where Russia is helping Bernie Sanders. Nobody said it to me at all. Nobody briefed that to me at all,” the president said, before suggesting that Schiff should be investigated for leaking information about Russia’s efforts to the press.
In response, Schiff rebuked Trump’s statement as “false claims” in a tweet on Sunday, where he also condemned the president for betraying America.
“Nice deflection, Mr. President. But your false claims fool no one. You welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraine’s help in 2019, and won’t protect our elections in 2020,” Schiff wrote. “Now you fired your intel chief for briefing Congress about it. You’ve betrayed America. Again.”
Schiff’s remarks about the “fired” intel chief is in reference to Trump’s move to oust acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maquire. U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is anticipated to step into the role temporarily until a permanent replacement is found.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Schiff’s remarks come roughly two days after the Post reported that U.S. officials briefed Sanders about Russia’s efforts to help his campaign in an attempt to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. Unnamed sources familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence, told the newspaper that Trump and other lawmakers in Congress were also briefed on the efforts.
“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.”
He added: “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.”
Although the report also claimed that a senior intelligence official told lawmakers in a briefing last week that Russia wanted Trump to be reelected, the president called the report “disinformation” while speaking to supporters during a rally in Nevada on Friday.
“Wouldn’t he rather have Bernie, who honeymooned in Moscow?” Trump said.
Sanders confirmed Friday that the briefing occurred “about a month ago,” but asserted that he kept it private “because I go to many intelligence briefings which I don’t reveal to the public.”