President Donald Trump is pissed at new intelligence reports showing the Kremlin has picked its preferred 2020 candidate: him.
The tweeter-in-chief railed Friday about new analysis by U.S. intelligence officials indicating Russia is already working to get Trump reelected. To him, it’s just another partisan plot to discredit him.
“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 Friday. “Hoax number 7!”
The outburst came a day after outlets including The New York Times reported that top intelligence officials warned lawmakers of a repeat of the Kremlin plot that sowed confusion and helped pave the way for Trump’s 2016 win.
Speaking to the House Intelligence Committee last week, an aide to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said that Russian operatives are working to shape the Democratic primary and general election — in Trump’s favor. The president reportedly berated Maguire afterward for letting his aide share the information, and then he ousted Maguire and replaced him with a loyalist.
News of the interaction led some Democrats to question whether Trump canned Maguire in connection to that briefing. On Wednesday, Trump announced that Richard Grenell, a staunch ally, with no intel experience, would take over Maguire’s role.
“We count on the intelligence community to inform Congress of any threat of foreign interference in our elections,” Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted Thursday night. “If reports are true and the President is interfering with that, he is again jeopardizing our efforts to stop foreign meddling. Exactly as we warned he would do.”
The potential threat came into clearer focus on Friday. The Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence officials have also told Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russian operatives have tried to boost his campaign and sow division among Democrats. The Post didn’t publish additional details about what form the assistance is taking.
“I don’t care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president,” Sanders told the newspaper. “My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.”
Democrats have bashed Trump repeatedly for failing to protect American elections. On Friday, the hashtag #TrumpIsARussianAsset was even trending on Twitter at various points.
Mike Bloomberg’s self-funded campaign was one of the top accounts pushing the tag, referring to Trump as an “OUTSTANDING RUSSIAN PATRIOT.” The self-funded billionaire has also plastered the strip in Las Vegas — where Trump is set for a rally Friday on the eve of the Nevada caucus — with massive billboard ads taking shots at him.
While the ads don’t mention the Kremlin’s affinity for Trump directly, one of them reminds passersby, “Donald Trump lost the popular vote.”
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)