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Sanders says Russians Tried to Divide Iowans Ahead of the 2016 Caucuses

Clay Masters
Sen. Bernie Sanders at a stop Friday in Des Moines

Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was back in Iowa Friday, making a couple of stops he says are about the midterm election. He was in Des Moines around midday, speaking at an event for a Democratic congressional candidate Pete D’Alessandro, who hopes to challenge Republican David Young in Iowa’s 3rd District.  D’Alessandro was Sanders’ top aide in the state during his campaign for the 2016 Iowa caucuses.

Sanders said Russians attempted to use any and every possibility to divide people during the Iowa caucuses in 2016.  Special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment released earlier this week details a Russian social media campaign in 2016 geared to undermine Hillary Clinton and aid Donald Trump going back to the Iowa caucuses. That’s when Clinton just squeaked out a win over Sanders here.

“No one ever, ever suggested that the caucus was rigged by Clinton,” Sanders said. “That’s just something that the Russians came up to divide the Hillary supporters from the Bernie supporters”

Sanders said the real issue is Trump’s lack of standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Sanders also spoke about gun control in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead.  He told a crowd of more than 300 people at the D’Alessandro rally that tougher laws are needed.

“In a society that is concerned about its children,” he said. “That is concerned about ordinary people. We have got to ban assault weapons designed to kill human beings.”

Sanders was scheduled to speak tonight at an anti-Trump rally in Cedar Rapids.   

Clay Masters is the senior politics reporter for MPR News.