Russia on Friday denied it’s meddling in this year’s presidential race after lawmakers were briefed that Moscow had been trying to help President Donald Trump win a second term.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the allegations are “paranoid reports that, unfortunately, there will be more and more of as we get closer to the elections (in the U.S.).
“Of course, they have nothing to do with the truth.”
The House Intelligence Committee was told at a closed-door briefing Feb. 13 that Russian operatives were trying to influence the 2020 race in Trump's favor and sow discord in the U.S. electorate, as spy chiefs believe they did in 2016.
Republicans on the committee defended Trump while the president reacted angrily after discovering panel chair Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led the Trump impeachment hearings, had attended the briefing.
Afterward, Trump berated acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, and replaced him on Thursday with U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, a staunch Trump loyalist.
Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressed outrage at the continued Russian interference.
“American voters should decide American elections — not [Russian President] Vladimir Putin,” she tweeted, adding all members of Congress “should condemn the President’s reported efforts to dismiss threats to the integrity of our democracy & to politicize our intel community.”
In his own tweet, Schiff said “We count on the intelligence community to inform Congress of any threat of foreign interference in our elections. If reports are true and the president is interfering with that, he is again jeopardizing our efforts to stop foreign meddling. Exactly as we warned he would do.”
Republican lawmakers who were in last week's briefing by the DNI’s chief election official, Shelby Pierson, pushed back by noting that Trump has been tough on Russia, one of the officials said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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