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Top intelligence officials release statements criticizing leaking of Russian bounties information

Top U.S. intelligence officials released statements Monday criticizing leaks to the media as the Trump administration continues to defend against allegations that it knew Russia had offered bounties to incentivize Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition troops in Afghanistan. 

CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelCongress set for chaotic year-end sprint A strong, committed intelligence community is part of America's good fortune Women set to take key roles in Biden administration MORE and Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeTop intelligence official says China targeting foreign influence at incoming Biden administration Krebs describes threats to election officials as 'undermining democracy' Schumer meets with Biden national security picks MORE released similar statements Monday night slamming leaks as detrimental to intelligence investigations.

“The selective leaking of any classified information disrupts the vital interagency work to collect, assess, and mitigate threats and places our forces at risk. It also, simply put, a crime,” Ratcliffe said in a statement. 

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Haspel said that “leaks compromise and disrupt the critical interagency work to collect, assess, and ascribe culpability.”

Neither official directly addressed the reported intelligence assessing Russia had offered bounties to militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. 

“We are still investigating the alleged intelligence referenced in recent media reporting and we will brief the president and congressional leaders at the appropriate time,” Ratcliffe said. 

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“Hostile states’ use of proxies in war zones to inflict damage on U.S. interests and troops is a constant, longstanding concern. CIA will continue to pursue every lead; analyze the information we collect with critical, objective eyes; and brief reliable intelligence to protect U.S. forces deployed around the world,” Haspel said. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE has denied being briefed on the matter, tweeting on Sunday that he, Vice President Pence and chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsDespite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill EPA chief quarantining after exposure to someone who later tested positive for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Barr splits with Trump on election; pardon controversy MORE were never told “about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians.” He also criticized The New York Times, which first reported on the intelligence last Friday.

Earlier Monday Ratcliffe released a statement stating “that neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence alleged by the New York Times in its reporting yesterday."

Asked about the reports during a briefing Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president "was not briefed on this and neither was the vice president.” 

Pressed on whether the information was in the president's daily briefing, McEnany said he was "not personally briefed on the matter.”

She also said that “there’s no consensus in the intel community” adding that “there are dissenting opinions from some within it.” 

CNN reported Monday, citing an unnamed source, that information about the Russian bounties was included in one of Trump’s daily briefings. 

The White House declined to comment on CNN’s reporting.