• MLWA 7

A repeat of 2016? Trump Rejects the initial reports of Russian election meddling

- Washington, District of Columbia (AP)

President Donald Trump on Friday minimized new warnings from U.S. intelligence experts that Russia is interfering in this year’s election campaign, and revived old grievances in claiming that Democrats are determined to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency.

As Trump pushed back against the reports that Russia is working to help reelect him, more departures from the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence were announced.

Trump started the day on Twitter by claiming that Democrats were pushing a “misinformation campaign” in hopes of politically damaging him.

Then, making light of the intelligence findings at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, he suggested that Russia might actually prefer Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the top Democratic presidential contenders, in the White House. Sanders and his wife, Jane, in 1988 spent their honeymoon in the then Soviet Union, Trump noted.

“Would you rather have, let’s say, Bernie?” Trump said. ”Wouldn’t you rather that Bernie, who honeymooned in Moscow?”

Intelligence officials told lawmakers in a classified briefing last week that Russia is meddling with the hope of getting Trump reelected, according to officials familiar with the briefing

The fresh intelligence warnings about Russian interference came in what has been a tumultuous stretch for the intelligence community.

A day after the Feb. 13 briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, Trump berated the acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire in a meeting at the White House. Then this week, Trump abruptly announced that Maguire would be replaced by Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist who also will hold the job in an acting capacity.