Senate Democrats demand to see copies of Trump’s intelligence briefings on Russian bounties
Senate Democrats are demanding they be allowed to see any copies of intelligence briefs that were presented to President Trump regarding evidence that Russia was paying the Taliban bounties for attacks on U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.
In a letter to the White House spearheaded by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), herself a combat veteran of the Iraq War, the senators expressed alarm that news reports showed that Trump was briefed on intelligence surrounding the bounties as early as February, but did not take action to punish Russia.
“Beyond the numerous public reports alleging that you authorized no action based on the alleged intelligence, your administration does not dispute that you have indeed not directed any new actions to send Russia a message that such provocations will not go unpunished,” they wrote.
“There can be no higher national security priority than the protection of our Armed Forces abroad,” they continued, “and the people’s representatives in Congress need to know what is going on here.”
The senators demanded the White House hand over any Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), a document outlining national security threats delivered to the president each day, regarding the bounties by July 17, and provide Congress with any documents related to National Security Council meetings that are relevant.
They also asked the administration to make available top officials, including the secretaries of Defense and State and the director of national intelligence, for testimony on Capitol Hill.
The letter is the latest development in an ongoing effort by congressional Democrats to demand answers over news reports that surfaced last month regarding the bounties.
Trump has denied ever being briefed on the deal between Russian intelligence and the Taliban, though officials have confirmed to news outlets that intelligence concerning the bounties appeared in his PDB earlier this year. The president is known to rarely read the document.
Republican allies have come to Trump’s defense, saying there was no unanimity over the veracity of the intelligence and that Trump should not have taken action until the Intelligence Community was certain that the bounties were in fact linked to specific attacks on troops in Afghanistan.
“Do people still not understand that this is all a made up Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me & the Republican Party. I was never briefed because any info that they may have had did not rise to that level,” Trump tweeted last week.
“No corroborating evidence to back reports.” Department of Defense. Do people still not understand that this is all a made up Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me & the Republican Party. I was never briefed because any info that they may have had did not rise to that level
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2020
Democrats have been undeterred, however, demanding answers from top officials over the intelligence and that the administration address the issue.
“It is unacceptable that to date, the Trump administration appears to be ignoring a matter of great importance to Gold Star Family members whose loved ones were killed while serving in Afghanistan: were any US troop casualties in Afghanistan connected with the alleged GRU bounty payments to Taliban-linked militants?” Duckworth wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper this week, referring to Russian military intelligrnce. “Gold Star Families deserve an answer to this question.”