Senators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops

Senators will have access to intelligence documents related to reporting that Russia’s military intelligence unit, the GRU, offered bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. 

The broad access senators will have to classified documents that were previously reserved for members of the Senate Intelligence Committee reflects the intense concern building on Capitol Hill over a bombshell report published by The New York Times on Friday.

“I do understand that multiple documents ... are being made available to senators in a secure room. I just got that note as I was coming over here,” said Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns MORE (R-Alaska), who said she would “hope” that senators receive a briefing.

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“I think it’s important to understand the facts behind it,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Trump backs plan to give airlines another billion in aid MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday morning called for Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeHillicon Valley: Google extending remote work policy through July 2021 | Intel community returns final Russia report to Senate committee after declassification | Study finds election officials vulnerable to cyberattacks Intel community returns final Russia report volume to Senate after declassification review Hillicon Valley: Feds warn hackers targeting critical infrastructure | Twitter exploring subscription service | Bill would give DHS cyber agency subpoena power MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday Top intelligence officials to brief Gang of Eight on Thursday MORE to brief all 100 senators on reports of Russia offering bounties on U.S. troops. 

“We need to know whether or not President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE was told this information, and if so, when,” Schumer said. 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Ratcliffe and Haspel on Monday asking them to brief all House members.

“The questions that arise are: was the president briefed, and if not, why not, and why was Congress not briefed,” she wrote.

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The White House briefed House Republican lawmakers on the issue Monday and is expected to brief House Democrats on Tuesday morning.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire McConnell: Wearing a mask is 'single most significant thing' to fight pandemic McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill MORE (R-Fla.) told reporters Monday afternoon that he was not aware of any Senate briefings.

“We need to be very careful about how we discuss intelligence because if you’re not a regular consumer of it, as most people are not, you don't understand how it works. The notion of a smoking gun and intelligence are rare,” he told reporters.

Rubio warned against jumping to conclusions because intelligence sometimes represents a best guess instead of a rock-solid fact. 

"It is important to be cautious on intelligence writ large because when it's proven to not be accurate, it can lead to things like a war or other measures that proved to be counterproductive," he said.

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Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseDemocrats seek to exploit Trump-GOP tensions in COVID-19 talks On The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP McConnell: 15-20 GOP senators will not vote for any coronavirus deal MORE (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, indicated Monday that the topic is not new to members of his panel. 

"There are a lot of us in SSCI who have already spent time on this topic in the past," he said, using the acronym for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "The Congress and particularly the SSCI needs to do a lot more."

Sasse clarified that "I'm not confirming any facts."