Murphy: Russia will become more of a threat to US election while Trump is in quarantine

Murphy: Russia will become more of a threat to US election while Trump is in quarantine
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyExpats plead with US to deliver COVID-19 vaccines Growing number of Democrats endorse abolishing debt limit altogether Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase MORE (D-Conn.) said Friday that while President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE cannot be on the campaign trail due to his recent coronavirus diagnosis, that Russia will become an increasing threat to the Nov. 3 election. 

The commentary from Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, comes just hours after Trump announced that he and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpGOP leader's remarks on Fox underscore Trump's power White House orders release of Trump records to Jan. 6 committee Ex-Trump aide sues Grisham over abuse allegations MORE have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Their diagnosis came shortly after news broke that top White House aide Hope HicksHope HicksWhite House orders release of Trump records to Jan. 6 committee Grisham calls Kushner 'Rasputin in a slim-fitting suit' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US prepares vaccine booster plan MORE had also tested positive for the disease. 

During an interview Friday with CNN's Jim Sciutto, Murphy warned that Russia may look to take advantage of Trump's diagnosis. 

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"You have to be much more serious about the Russian threat given today’s news," Murphy told Sciutto. "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 PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinFBI agents swarm Russian oligarch's DC home Netanyahu told Putin he would be 'back soon' after election: report Russia records another daily record of deaths as COVID-19 continues surge MORE."

"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," Murphy continued without providing specific evidence. "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."

Concerns regarding foreign election interference have increased in the past few months following an assessment from William Evanina, director of National Counterintelligence and Security Center. Evanina said that Russia, China and Iran are engaging in interference efforts surrounding the elections. 

His assessment also detailed that Russia was seeking to influence the election in favor of Trump, while China and Iran preferred the Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWhite House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package 'closing' Jayapal says tuition-free community college 'probably won't' be in spending plan Jan. 6 panel votes to hold Bannon in contempt MORE

Other lawmakers have raised concerns regarding foreign election interference, and recently Reps. Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Jill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Laws should unite, not divide MORE (D-Va.) and John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoLawmakers advocate for establishment of standalone House and Senate cyber panels Hillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — Facebook experiences widespread outage Lawmakers introduce bill to identify and protect critical groups from cyber threats MORE (R-N.Y.) proposed legislation intended to cut down on foreign disinformation on social media. 

Reporting from former 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 found that in 2016, Russia engaged in a sweeping disinformation campaign on social media in order to influence the U.S. election between then-candidate Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump defends indicted GOP congressman GOP lawmaker says he expects to be indicted over FBI investigation Why it's time for conservatives to accept the 2020 election results and move on MORE.  

The president and first lady are only experiencing mild symptoms, according to the White House. 

Democratic nominee Joe Biden was tested Friday morning, according to the campaign, and he has tested negative for the coronavirus.

updated 2:15 p.m.