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Trump: Democrats 'trying to start a rumor' about 2020 Russian interference

President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE said at a Nevada campaign rally Friday that Democrats are trying to start a “rumor” about Russia interfering in the 2020 presidential election on his behalf, calling them “sick” and “crazy.”

Trump also suggested that Moscow would prefer to see Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Briahna Joy Gray: Biden is keeping the filibuster to have 'a Joe Manchin presidency' On The Money: Biden to fire FHFA director after Supreme Court removes restriction | Yellen pleads with Congress to raise debt ceiling MORE (I-Vt.), the leading contender for the Democratic nomination, in the White House, noting that he “honeymooned” in the Soviet Union.

“After three years of ridiculous witch hunts and partisan Democrat crusades — by the way, I think they’re starting another one,” Trump told a crowd of supporters at an afternoon rally in Las Vegas.

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“Did you see that? I see these phonies, the do-nothing Democrats, they said today that Putin wants to be sure that Trump gets elected. Here we go again.”

Trump blamed House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocratic lawmakers not initially targeted in Trump DOJ leak probe: report Sunday shows - Voting rights, infrastructure in the spotlight Schiff calls Iranian presidential election 'predetermined' MORE (D-Calif.) for recent reports about Russian meddling to help his reelection, without naming Schiff specifically but referring to him as “pencil neck” – a nickname the president and his allies have used to mock the California congressman.

“I was told a week ago. They said, you know, they’re trying to start a rumor. It’s disinformation. That’s the only thing they’re good at. They’re not good at anything else. They get nothing done,” Trump said, referring to Democrats.

The president’s remarks expanded on a tweet he sent earlier Friday.

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The New York Times and Washington Post reported Thursday that U.S. intelligence officials informed House lawmakers in a closed briefing last week that Russia was meddling in the 2020 election in order to help Trump get reelected.

The details of the briefing were reportedly relayed to the president — a detail he seemed to confirm in his rally remarks Friday — and caused him to lash out at acting intelligence chief Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireJudge dismisses Nunes's defamation suit against Washington Post Retired Navy admiral behind bin Laden raid says he voted for Biden Congressional Democrats request FBI briefing on foreign election interference efforts MORE.

Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election in order to help Trump, according to the U.S. intelligence community, though he has repeatedly cast doubt on that judgment despite it being confirmed by both congressional and executive branch investigations.

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The 2016 developments precipitated a two-year investigation by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE into Russian interference and the Trump campaign’s ties to Moscow, a probe that dogged a considerable portion of the president’s first term and that he repeatedly decries as a “witch hunt" to this day.

Trump on Friday ridiculed the idea that Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinIs America Back? A view from Europe Russia says warning shots were fired at British destroyer in Black Sea Russia deems Bard College program a threat to 'order and security' MORE would want him to remain in the White House.  

“Doesn’t he want to see who the Democrat is going to be?” Trump asked the crowd. “Wouldn’t he rather have Bernie, who honeymooned in Moscow? These people are crazy.”

Trump then noted that he wants to “get along” with Russia and other countries.

“Who the hell needs to have conflicts?” he asked.

Trump has often spoke positively about Putin and welcomed better relations with Moscow, but tensions between Washington and Moscow have persisted over issues ranging from election meddling to arms control. 

Mueller concluded his investigation last spring, finding no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow, a result the president has cheered while continuing to attack the investigation as motivated by bias.