Sanders campaign rejects Trump claims: Democratic primary is 'not currently rigged'

Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Bernie SandersBernie SandersJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE's 2020 presidential campaign, on Monday pushed back against President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE's accusations that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is working to "rig" the primary contest against the Vermont senator.

"It is not currently rigged. Last time it was rigged," Weaver, who as served Sanders's 2016 White House campaign manager, said on MSNBC as the Iowa caucuses got under way. 

Weaver added that Trump's comments are an attempt to paint the primary as a tool of the political establishment — and himself as the only candidate working outside of the machine.

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"We’re not going to play that game," Weaver said. "The danger for Trump is the people who support Trump, working class people in Pennsylvania, people who voted for Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaA Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press Juan Williams: Don't count Biden out Candidates in Obama's orbit fail to capitalize on personal ties MORE twice and then voted for Trump, people in Iowa [are the] same way. Those people could be brought back by Bernie Sanders, not Joe BidenJoe BidenJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE."

Trump, in a series of tweets over the weekend, claimed that the DNC was working in tandem with former New York mayor and 2020 White House hopeful Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergWhere the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad Judd Gregg: Bloomberg rising MORE to "rig the election" against Sanders. Trump also alleged without evidence that Bloomberg was in talks with the DNC to "have the right to stand on boxes" during Democratic debates. 

The comments came after the DNC abruptly announced that it was nixing the donor threshold for a primary debate in Las Vegas later this month. The move could present an opening for Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman self-funding his entire campaign, to reach the debate stage. 

For the Nevada debate, Bloomberg and the rest of the candidates need to reach 10 percent support in at least four national polls, or 12 percent support in two sanctioned early-state surveys from Nevada and South Carolina, according to the new criteria. They could also participate in the Feb. 19 debate if they earn at least one pledged delegate at the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary. 

Asked about the allegations in Los Angeles on Sunday, Bloomberg said that Trump "lies about everything" and that it shouldn't come as a surprise that he'd make a statement such as that one. 

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"This is what happens when someone like me suddenly rises in the polls. All of a sudden, the other candidates get scared, and I think Donald Trump knows that I can beat him," Bloomberg said. 

But the new criteria have sparked opposition from many of Bloomberg's primary opponents who have worked hard to build up a base of donors. Weaver said last week that the change is the "definition of a rigged system."

Sanders, who has predicated his 2016 and 2020 presidential bids around progressive policies such as Medicare For All and college debt cancellation, has emerged as a favorite in the primary contest, according to state and national polls. A Real Clear Politics average of polling shows he leads in Iowa by 3.7 percentage points.