A Democratic senator said he worries that Russia will increase its efforts to interfere in the upcoming election after President Trump tested positive for COVID-19.
Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said Friday on CNN that the Russian effort to interfere in this year’s election is “much bigger and bolder, and smarter” than back in 2016, and warned that Russian operatives may use the president’s absence on the campaign trail to meddle in U.S. politics.
“I also think that you have to be much more serious about the Russian threat given today’s news,” Murphy asserted. “If President Trump can’t be out there on the campaign trail for the next two weeks, then he is going to rely on his surrogates and, unfortunately, one of his surrogates is Vladimir Putin, so you are likely going to see this campaign ramped up by Russia over the next few weeks to try to substitute for the president’s absence on the campaign trail.”
The Kremlin said on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Trump a message that read: “I hope that your inherent vitality, good spirits and optimism will help you cope with the dangerous virus.”
Murphy said there are also concerns that other foreign countries, such as Iran, China, and North Korea, will try to take advantage of the situation.
“That’s certainly something that you worry about when you hear that the president has been incapacitated, which is why I think it’s important that the White House be fully transparent about the president’s condition,” he said.
When asked about if Trump’s diagnosis might pose a threat to the sanctity of the election, the senator said that, for now, he was taking White House chief of staff Mark Meadows at his word. Meadows told reporters on Friday morning that the president was experiencing “mild” symptoms and remains “energetic” and in “good spirits.”
“Well, I hope that not to be the case,” Murphy said in response to the potential for the diagnosis to harm the election, “and for today I’m going to trust Mark Meadows’s information that the president, while having mild symptoms, is still awake and alert and able to run the country.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, warned adversaries on Friday against any attempts meddle in U.S. affairs following the president’s diagnosis.
“Any adversary who views news of @POTUS testing positive as an opportunity to test the United States would be making a grave mistake,” the Florida Republican said on Twitter.
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