Putin will be Trump campaign ‘surrogate’ while he quarantines, Dem Sen. Chris Murphy says
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., claimed on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will step up his efforts to meddle in the upcoming election in the coming days now that President Trump has tested positive for coronavirus.
Murphy said the public needs to be “much more serious about the Russian threat” after Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump will quarantine while they recover from the virus. With Election Day just weeks away, the Democratic senator claimed that Russia will “campaign” on Trump’s behalf.
“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,” Murphy said during an appearance on CNN. “So, unfortunately, 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, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted that Russia’s operation was “much bigger and bolder and smarter than it was in 2016” and has a “clear desire to try to elect President Trump to a second term.” He expressed concern that U.S. intelligence agencies “are not being clear” about the threat Russia poses to the upcoming election.
The Trump campaign announced Friday that all scheduled events involving the participation of the president or his family members will be postponed or moved to a virtual format. Trump’s physician, Sean P. Conley, said the president will isolate at the White House and is expected to “continue carrying out his duties without disruption.”
U.S. intelligence officials have repeatedly warned about Russia’s attempts to meddle in the upcoming election. Last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to Congressional lawmakers that Russia was involved in a “very active” campaign “to denigrate Vice President Biden.”
Wray’s remarks drew a rebuke from Trump, who has argued that China is a bigger threat to election security.