Senate Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers

Senate Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers
© Aaron Schwartz

Senate Democrats are requesting a briefing on wire transfers intercepted by U.S. intelligence connected to reports of bounties being offered by Russian forces to incentivize Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

According to The New York Times, which first reported the intelligence last week, U.S. analysts concluded that large financial transfers intercepted by the U.S. were likely bounties from the GRU, Moscow's military intelligence agency, to the Taliban. 

Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOvernight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw Chamber of Commerce, banking industry groups call on Senate to pass corporate diversity bill MORE (Ohio), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Overnight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE (R.I.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezVOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage Bottom line Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads MORE (N.J.) — the Democratic ranking members of the Senate Banking, Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, respectively — are asking to be briefed on the evidence obtained by the Department of the Treasury.

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“We request to be briefed by you directly within the next two days on these reports, including any intercept evidence developed by Treasury or other US government analysts to which FinCEN has access that would shed light on these allegations,” the lawmakers wrote in a Wednesday letter obtained by The Hill and addressed to Kenneth Blanco, director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the law enforcement branch of the Treasury Department. 

According to the Times, analysts found that several Afghan businessmen who transferred money through the informal “hawala” system over the past six months served as middlemen for these transactions. 

The transfers reportedly quelled disagreements among some intelligence officials on whether the initial intelligence about Russian bounties was credible, though administration officials have consistently said the allegations are unverified.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE says he was never briefed on the intelligence, though multiple reports have indicated it was included in his written President's Daily Brief. He has described the intelligence as “not credible” and a “hoax.”

 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have asked administration officials to explain what Trump knew about the threat and when he knew it.

National security adviser Robert O’Brien told Fox News that Trump knew nothing about the reports because his briefer “decided not to” share unverified intelligence with him.