Amid questions over Russian interference in the 2020 election and the Democratic primary, President Donald Trump said he has not received any help from Russia and doesn’t want any assistance from foreign powers during his reelection bid.
“First of all, I want no help from any country, and I haven’t been given help from any country,” Trump told reporters Tuesday.
The White House and Trump over the weekend responded to news reports citing anonymous sources that the Kremlin is again waging a disinformation campaign to get Trump reelected, and later, other reports claimed Russia is also trying to secure Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders’ election. Those reports were based on a House Intelligence Committee briefing from a Trump administration official earlier this month.
During a news conference in India, Trump said in a press conference that “somebody leaked it in intelligence, but nobody ever told me that.” Pointing to his national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, the president then said that “he can tell you that this was never discussed with us.”
In several Sunday television interviews, O’Brien disputed the new claims that the Russians are interfering in the 2020 election or are helping Trump.
“I haven’t seen any intelligence to support the reports that were leaked out of the House. But it’s just hard to comment on that because, again, I wasn’t there,” he told CBS News’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning.
Over the past several days, Trump also has highlighted new reports saying the official who briefed lawmakers might have exaggerated the assessment of Russian interference, including a CNN article, saying the “intelligence briefer appears to have overstated assessment of 2020 Russian interference.”
“They ought to stop the leaking from Intelligence Committee,” Trump said in the news conference. “And if they don’t stop it, I can’t imagine that people are not going to go after them and find out what’s happening.”
But he’s also focused on reports suggesting the Democratic establishment is concerned about Sanders’ candidacy after wins in Nevada and New Hampshire, saying that Democratic officials are working to prevent the self-avowed democratic socialist from becoming their party’s nominee.
Legacy news outlets have added “Bernie to the list of Russian Sympathizers, along with @TulsiGabbard & Jill Stein (of the Green Party), both agents of Russia, they say,” Trump wrote on Twitter, “but now they report President Putin wants Bernie (or me) to win.”
The president also claimed that House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a longtime foe, orchestrated a leak to media outlets. “It sounds to me like a leak from Adam Schiff because they don’t want Bernie Sanders to represent them. It sounds like it’s  all over again for Bernie Sanders,” Trump told reporters on Sunday.
Schiff responded on Twitter by accusing Trump of “deflection” and again said Trump “welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraine’s help in 2019, and won’t protect our elections in 2020.”
Russia’s alleged interference triggered a two-year-long investigation headed by then-special counsel Robert Mueller. Last year, he found no conclusive evidence of coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. As Mueller’s investigation was proceeding and during the impeachment inquiry months later, Trump said both were part of a Democratic-concocted effort to undermine his presidency.
Sanders, in a statement, said he doesn’t support the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to bolster his campaign.
“I don’t care, frankly, who [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants to be president,” he said. “My message to Putin is clear: stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.”