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McEnany sidesteps questions on Russian bounty intel

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday sidestepped questions about reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to target U.S. military members in Afghanistan.

McEnany stuck closely to talking points throughout the briefing, repeating several times that “there is no consensus within the intelligence community” on the intelligence related to the Russian bounty program. Pressed for specifics about whether the president was made aware of the intelligence, she declined to elaborate beyond saying that Trump had not been personally briefed on the information.

“The U.S. receives thousands of reports a day on intelligence and they are subject to strict scrutiny,” McEnany said, reading from prepared notes. “While the White House does not routinely comment on alleged intelligence or internal deliberations, the CIA director, NSA and chief of staff can all confirm that neither the president nor the vice president were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence.”

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“There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations, and in fact there are dissenting opinions from some in the intelligence community,” she added.

McEnany wouldn’t say whether the intelligence was in the President’s Daily Brief, a top-secret summary of high-level intelligence that is given to Trump daily, only reiterating that he was not “personally briefed on the matter.”

McEnany declined to explain Trump’s tweet late Sunday night that intelligence had “just reported” to him that they did not find the information “credible” in explaining why he hadn’t been briefed on the material. She did not say who Trump was referring to in the tweet or whether the conversation constituted a full briefing.

“No further details on the president’s private correspondence,” McEnany said.

She later sidestepped a question about how Trump could be sure the intelligence was not credible if he had not been briefed on it, instead accusing The New York Times of “irresponsible” reporting.

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The New York Times first reported on Friday that a Russian intelligence unit, commonly known as the GRU, secretly offered payments to Taliban-linked militants who launch successful attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan. According to the Times, Trump was briefed on the matter in late March and the administration discussed potential responses, but the White House had yet to sign off on further action.

The Washington Post reported late Sunday that the bounty program had resulted in American casualties.

The White House, backed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), has vociferously denied that either Trump or Vice President Pence was briefed on the intelligence. The ODNI has not commented on the credibility of the intelligence, and the White House until Monday had not addressed its credibility.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump White House associate tied to Proud Boys before riot via cell phone data Greene sounds off on GOP after Hill story 'Bloody Sunday' to be commemorated for first time without John Lewis MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerManchin firm on support for filibuster, mulls making it 'a little bit more painful' to use Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday requested briefings for the full House and Senate from the head of the CIA and the director of national intelligence. Republicans on Capitol Hill have also pressed the White House for information.

Several Republican lawmakers were at the White House for a briefing on the matter as McEnany spoke.

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McEnany said that White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsTrump attacks Karl Rove: 'A pompous fool with bad advice' How scientists saved Trump's FDA from politics Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses MORE phoned House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPPP vs. PRO: A textbook case of cognitive dissonance in Washington Former Trump economic adviser praises 'blowout' jobs report Sunday shows preview: Manchin makes the rounds after pivotal role in coronavirus relief debate MORE (D-Md.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats near pressure point on nixing filibuster  We need a voting rights workaround Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package MORE (R-Ky.) on Sunday evening offering to brief eight lawmakers on the committees of jurisdiction on the matter. She said the briefing was ongoing at the White House but did not divulge the names of the attendees.

When a reporter pointed out that members of Congress were being briefed on an issue the president claimed he had not been briefed on, McEnany explained that Trump “is briefed on verified intelligence.”

The Republican lawmakers in attendance at Monday's briefing included House Armed Services Committee Chair Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world Senate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto MORE (Texas), House GOP  Conference Chair Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyGOP senator defends Cheney, Murkowski after Trump rebuke Marjorie Taylor Greene's delay tactics frustrate GOP Paul Ryan to host fundraiser for Cheney amid GOP tensions MORE (Wyo.) and Reps. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulMcCaul says Trump has responsibility to tell potential Capitol attackers to 'stand down' Threats to Capitol prompt House to cancel Thursday votes Blinken speaks with Ethiopian leader about human rights concerns in Tigray MORE (Texas), Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerMarjorie Taylor Greene's delay tactics frustrate GOP Republicans, please save your party House GOP campaign chief: Not helpful for Trump to meddle in primaries MORE (Ill.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Jim Banks (Ind.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikParliamentarian strikes down Pelosi priority in aid package Cuomo asks New York AG to appoint independent attorney to investigate sexual harassment claims Psaki: Cuomo should face 'independent review' over sexual harassment allegations MORE (N.Y.), according to a source familiar with the meeting.

--This report was updated at 3:13 p.m.