Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy claimed Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a “campaign surrogate” for President Donald Trump.
Murphy spoke with CNN’s Jim Sciutto about the news that had broken overnight, namely, that both Trump and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for coronavirus. He said that quarantining would force the president to stay off the campaign trail, leaving the work to his campaign surrogates with just over four weeks to go until Election Day. (RELATED: Democratic Senator Suggests Kavanaugh Nomination Will Result in Women Being Put in Jail for Abortion)
Sciutto, after addressing the president’s diagnosis, pivoted to ask Murphy about his recent comments on Russia, particularly his claim that he had seen “evidence of a giant, quoting from you, a multi-layer effort to help Trump in 2020 by Russia.”
2/ Earlier this year, reports start coming into Congress about a giant, multi-layer Russian effort to help Trump in 2020. Bigger than what they did in 2016. Looks like Russians are trying to get U.S. persons – especially those close to Trump – to help.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 1, 2020
“What can you tell us about that?” Sciutto asked.
“Well, what I can tell you is that it’s much big and bolder and smarter than it was in 2016,” Murphy replied, saying that the Russians were using U.S. people directly and actively, creating fake websites that pushed narratives that would be beneficial to Trump and his reelection efforts.
“I also think that you have to be much more serious about the Russian threat given today’s news,” Murphy continued. “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 and my worry is that the intel agencies are not being clear with the American people about the size of the Russian operation and their clear desire to try to elect President Trump to a second term.”
Multiple reports have indicated that Russian operatives did attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, and most experts agree that they are engaged in continued attempts to disrupt the 2020 election as well. Those reports did not suggest that any 2016 votes were changed as a result of these efforts.