President Donald Trump has denied getting told by to intelligence officials that Russia is intervening in the 2020 primaries and – following an explosive report about a Capitol briefing on Russia’s intentions.
‘Nobody said it to me at all,’ Trump told reporters at the White House Sunday as he departed for a trip to India, asked if he has been briefed that Russia is trying to help Sanders.
Trump also blasted House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, who served as the lead House impeachment manager and whose committee got a briefing with a top intelligence official that led Trump to dress down outgoing Director of Intelligence Joseph Maguire.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., before his departure to India, February 23, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
‘They leaked it – Adam Schiff and his group, they leaked it to the papers as usual. They ought to investigate Adam Schiff for leaking that information. He should not be leaking information out of intelligence. They ought to investigate Adam Schiff,’ Trump said.
Trump’s comments about the Democratic nomination fight comes as party leaders see a path victory for the independent from Vermont and self-described democratic socialist, with some warning it could crush Democrats running down on the ticket.
It is a party rift that Trump is eager to exploit. Asked if Sanders would be the nominee, Trump responded: ‘I think so – unless they cheat him out of it.’
Trump’s remarks about intelligence briefings were echoed by Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, who told ‘Fox News Sunday’: ‘The intelligence community has not told us that Russia is trying to elect Donald trump.’
Trump congratulated Sen. Bernie Sanders on his win in Nevada
Trump is departing on a trip to India along with First Lady Melania Trump
‘I hope they treat him fairly,’ Trump said of Democratic leaders and the Sanders campaign
Trump accused Rep. Adam Schiff of leaking information about a classified briefing on Russian intentions for 2020
But Short also confirmed that Trump blasted Maguire over the briefing with the Intelligence Committee, where an aide to Maguire told lawmakers during questioning that Russia intended to interfere in primaries, according to the New York Times.
Said Short: ‘The president did question because he said, ‘Why did they get a briefing before I did?” said Short.
Trump also congratulated Sanders on his big win in the Nevada caucuses.
‘I hope they treat him fairly,’ Trumps said. ‘I hope it’s not going to be a rigged deal because there’s a lot of bad things going on,’ he said, without explanation.
Asked if he was concerned about Russian interference in the elections, Trump instead spoke about efforts he thinks the Democrats are undertaking to deprive Sanders the party’s nomination.
‘I think what it could be, the Democrats are treating Bernie Sanders very unfairly. And it sounds to me like a leak from Adam Schiff because they don’t want Bernie Sanders to represent them,’ Trump said. ‘It sounds like it’s ’16 all over again for Bernie Sanders. And he won he had a great victory yesterday. But you know what’s happening, you can see the handwriting on the wall,’ he added.
Trump also made comments suggesting Maguire was not dismissed over his own fury about the Russia briefing. ‘He’s a very nice man. His time came up so he had to leave on March 11,’ he said, pointing to Maguire’s acting status as director of national intelligence.
Asked about his latest thoughts on a potential pardon for longtime advisor Roger Stone, Trump said the jury was tainted – pointing to a juror who had tweeted about the case and ran as a Democrat for Congress in 2012.
‘I’ve seen a very sad thing going on with respect to Roger Stone,’ Trump said. ‘You have a juror that’s obviously tainted.’
Trump also addressed a peace deal with the Taliban, which is contingent on a reduction in violence over a period of days.
‘Look the Taliban’s been fighting for decades,’ Trump said.
‘We’ve been over there 19 years were’ like a law enforcement force. We think they want to make a deal, we want to make a deal. I think it’s going to work out. We’ll see. We’re right now in a period that’s been holding up,’ Trump said, referencing the period of non-violence.
‘It’s a day and a half. We’ll see what happens.’
He continued: ‘I think the Taliban wants to make a deal too. They’re tired of fighting.’ Asked if he would put his name to a deal, Trump responded: ‘Assuming it works out over the next less than a week I would put my name on it.’
‘Time to come home. And they want to stop. You know, they’ve been fighting a long time. They’re tough, people we’re tough people, but after 19 years that’s a long time,’ he said.