Sen. Bernie Sanders, unsurprisingly, has a deep and abiding respect for public radio, and frequently sits for interviews with the local Vermont station. But while most of these interviews focus on Sanders' favorite topics (burgeoning economic inequality in the US and, of course, his famed "Medicare for All" proposal), during an interview on Wednesday, Sanders felt compelled to address the "hot topic" of Russian interference during the US election.
In response to a caller asking why Bernie didn't do more to expose the Russian disinformation campaign while it was happening, Sanders replied that he had no idea that it was happening - and furthermore, he questioned why Hillary Clinton, whom he said had far more information than he did at the time, did not do more to address the issue.
"If he was aware that Russians were trying to promote him and divide Democrats against Mrs. Clinton, why did he not communicate this to his supporters?" the listener asked Sanders.
First, Sanders clarified that the Russians weren't supporting his campaign any more than they were supporting other controversial causes...
"This was not supporting me any more than they were supporting groups like Black Lives Matter that are fighting for social justice," Sanders said.
...Before adding that the real question is why Clinton didn't do more to expose the Russians, or at least try to explain to the public what was happening...
"I did not know that Russian bots were promoting my campaign," Sanders added. "Russians bots were not promoting my campaign. What we found out is that in April and May, it appeared that there were lots of strange things happening, attacking Hillary Clinton."
"I would say that the real question to be asked is what was the Clinton campaign doing - they had more information about this than we did, and at this point, we were working with them," he responded.
The interviewer then asked if the Clinton campaign expressly asked that the issue not be discussed. Sanders said it hadn't.
"No, of course not, but who do you think would be raising that issue?" Sanders said.
"I could see a world in which Mrs. Clinton said, ‘It's the Russians,' and Sanders supporters say, ‘Oh, that's baloney,' but if Sanders says it, they say, ‘OK,'" the interviewer said.
"We knew what we knew when we knew it, and that's about all that I can say," Sanders said.
Of course, Clinton famously blamed both the Russians and Bernie Sanders (along with the movie "There's Something About Mary" and deep-seated misogyny) for her stunning election lost in her "mea culpa" "What Happened?" - which was notably free of the 'accepting of responsibility' that Clinton has repeatedly promised her distraught supporters.