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Pelosi: Trump 'himself is a hoax'
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) needled President Trump 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.
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'Brien 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 Schumer (N.Y.) said in a joint statement.
"These reports are coming to light in the context of the President being soft on Vladimir Putin 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."