Pompeo says US warned Russia about threats to Americans
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the State Department has warned Russian officials about all threats that Russia poses to Americans and U.S. interests in various parts of the world.
Pompeo was pressed during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing about reports of Russia paying bounties to Taliban fighters to kill American troops in Afghanistan.
The secretary of State did not comment on whether he specifically raised the bounty allegations, but told the panel that threats from Russia against Americans in the middle east and elsewhere were discussed.
“Yes, I can assure you that each time I have spoken to [Russian] Foreign Minister [Sergey] Lavrov, I have raised all of the issues that put any Americans at risk,” Pompeo said in response to a question from the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.).
“We have raised this at my level and not only at my level,” Pompeo added.
Pompeo has previously pushed back on reports of Russian bounties, which were first reported by The New York Times and The Washington Post, accusing journalists of spreading misinformation.
When the reports surfaced, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied that President Trump and Vice President Pence were briefed on the intelligence but did not deny that the intelligence was accurate.
A White House spokeswoman this week emphasized that the reports “were based on unverified intel” but said “we still take it extremely seriously.”
“The safety of U.S. forces is the President’s top priority in Afghanistan,” White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah tweeted, noting that the intelligence assessment was also shared with Capitol Hill.
“Our country has seen the very real consequences of overreacting to unverified intelligence in the past. @realDonaldTrump will not repeat these same mistakes,” she added.
Pompeo’s Senate testimony came a day after Trump confirmed that he did not bring up the intelligence with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The secretary of State declined to say if he would recommend that Trump raise the matter with Putin.