* Trumpworld’s favorite new argument is that even if Russia is already interfering in the 2020 election, it isn’t for the purpose of helping President Trump. Philip Bump sets the record straight:

One way in which Trump frequently tried to wave away the idea that Russia was intervening on his behalf was by insisting that Russia would have preferred a Clinton presidency. After all, hadn’t he been the one to increase U.S. energy exports and to impose those sanctions? Well, yes on that second point, but he wasn’t always a willing participant in doing so.
Those are relatively minor compared with the benefits Russia gets from Trump’s presidency. Tensions with traditional U.S. allies. A freer hand for Russia in international affairs. Questions about the efficacy of NATO. A distrust of international accountability institutions. Perhaps the person who can speak most directly to what Russia wants is the country’s president, Vladimir Putin.
At a joint news conference with Trump in Finland two years ago, Putin was asked whether he wanted Trump to win the 2016 election. He said he did. There’s not really any reason to believe that he was being misleading then, and there’s good reason to assume that his preference for Trump continues. In June, Trump himself boasted that he “gets along” with Putin.

What’s more, as we noted earlier, even if you accept Trumpworld’s new line as true (which it isn’t), it isn’t even exonerating, since Russia is still attacking our democracy, and Trump doesn’t want Democrats in Congress briefed on this, which is appalling.

* Shane Harris, Ellen Nakashima, Michael Scherer and Sean Sullivan report that Putin has his eye on intervening in another 2020 contest as well:

U.S. officials have told Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russia is attempting to help his presidential campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic contest, according to people familiar with the matter.
President Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have also been informed about the Russian assistance to the Vermont senator, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.
It is not clear what form that Russian assistance has taken. U.S. prosecutors found a Russian effort in 2016 to use social media to boost Sanders campaign against Hillary Clinton, part of a broader effort to hurt Clinton, sow dissension in the American electorate and ultimately help elect Donald Trump.
“I don’t care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president,” Sanders said in a statement to The Washington Post. “My message to Putin is clear: stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do."

Sanders’s full response, which you can read here, is good. You frequently encounter online supporters of Sanders suggesting that Russian interference is a big nothing, but in reality, Sanders himself has articulated a powerful case for why progressives should care about it a great deal.

* A new poll of ultra-delegate-rich California finds Sanders ahead, but interestingly, Elizabeth Warren is in second place, and the polling director says she’s making a big move.

* Joe Biden has lately been telling a story about getting arrested in South Africa, but Katie Glueck and Thomas Kaplan took a close look and cannot find evidence it ever happened.

* Mike Bloomberg puts out a new statement declaring he’s prepared to release three onetime female employees from non-disclosure agreements, if they want to talk openly about what happened. That Warren pummeling must have stung!