Trump denies he was briefed on reported bounties on US troops
President Trump early Sunday denied that he had been briefed on reported Russian bounties placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and called for The New York Times to identify its source.
“Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an ‘anonymous source’ by the Fake News @nytimes,” Trump tweeted.
“Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us. Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine – Where’s Hunter? Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their ‘source’?” he added.
…Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine – Where’s Hunter? Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their “source”?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2020
On Saturday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also denied a report from the Times on Friday that Trump and Vice President Pence were briefed on American intelligence findings that Russian military operatives offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan, including U.S. troops, amid peace talks.
“While the White House does not routinely comment on alleged intelligence or internal deliberations, the CIA Director, National Security Advisor, and the Chief of Staff can all confirm that neither the President nor the Vice President were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence,” McEnany said in a statement.
She said the U.S. “receives thousands of intelligence reports a day and they are subject to strict scrutiny.” McEnany added that she was not denying the intelligence exists but said the president was not briefed on it.
“This does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter,” McEnany said.
The Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., called the Times report “fake news,” and a spokesman for the Taliban labeled the allegations “baseless.”
The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Fox News, however, published reports confirming the Times’s reporting.
“We stand by our story, the details of which have not been denied by the President’s own National Security agencies,” a New York Times spokesperson told The Hill.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said during a virtual town hall on Saturday that the report represented a “truly shocking revelation” if true.
“Not only has he failed to sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law. Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin,” the former vice president said.
Biden said he was “outraged” by the report and added that Trump’s presidency “has been a gift to Putin.”
“This is beyond the pale. It’s a betrayal of the most sacred duty in the nation: to protect our troops when we send them into harm’s way,” Biden said.
In February, the United States and the Taliban signed a historic deal aimed at winding down America’s longest war in Afghanistan.
Officials signed the agreement deal in Doha, Qatar, to begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. In exchange, the Taliban assured it would not allow Afghanistan to be used by terrorists to attack the United States.
The Taliban has refrained from attacking U.S. forces but has stepped up attacks on Afghan forces in the ensuing months. U.S. officials have stressed the deal allows the U.S. military to come to the defense of its Afghan partners if attacked by the Taliban.
Earlier this month, U.S. forces in Afghanistan conducted two airstrikes against the Taliban.
This report was updated at 9:16 a.m.
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