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Pelosi: Trump 'himself is a hoax'

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiClub for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Governors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight MORE (D-Calif.) needled President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE on Thursday, rebutting the president's assertion that the allegations of Russia placing a bounty on American soldiers is a hoax.

"He'll say this is a hoax, and it's a hoax that [Russia is] 24/7 trying to disrupt our elections like they did in 2016. He says that coronavirus is a hoax," Pelosi told MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle. "The fact is, the president himself is a hoax."

Pelosi was commenting on reports that Russian intelligence officials offered Afghan militants bounties to kill coalition forces, including U.S. troops, and that information about the issue was included in one of the president's briefings in February.

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Multiple White House officials have pushed back, arguing that Trump was not briefed, though they have not directly said the issue wasn't included in the president's daily intelligence briefing, a collection of intelligence documents. 

"The president was not briefed because at the time of these allegations they were uncorroborated," White House national security adviser Robert O'BrienRobert O'BrienO'Brien announces delivery of missiles, bombs to Philippines Huawei threat 'No. 1 concern' moving forward, Trump national security adviser says China, 14 other Asian nations sign regional trade deal MORE said Wednesday. "The president's career CIA briefer decided not to brief him because it was unverified intelligence ... and knowing all the facts I know, I certainly support her decision."

Throughout her briefings this week, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has also denied that the president was briefed on the matter.

The Gang of Eight — of which Pelosi is a member — was briefed on the situation Thursday.

“Force protection is a primary purpose of intelligence. It should have the same importance to the Commander-in-Chief. Any reports of threats on our troops must be pursued relentlessly," Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerProtect America's houses of worship in year-end appropriations package Club for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Inequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift MORE (N.Y.) said in a joint statement. 

“These reports are coming to light in the context of the President being soft on Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinScarborough says he'll never return to Republican Party after GOP supported Trump Will Biden choose a values-based or transactional foreign policy? Russian vessel threatens to ram US warship in disputed waters in Sea of Japan MORE when it comes to NATO, the G7, Crimea, Ukraine and the ongoing undermining of the integrity of our elections. Our Armed Forces would be better served if President Trump spent more time reading his daily briefing and less time planning military parades and defending relics of the Confederacy,” the two Democrats said.

In her press conference Thursday, Pelosi criticized Trump and his administration further, saying, "the president should have been verbally briefed on it."