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Pentagon: 'No corroborating evidence' yet to validate troop bounty allegations

The Department of Defense (DOD) said late Monday that it has not validated reported intelligence assessing that Russia offered bounties to incentivize Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces, including U.S. troops, in Afghanistan. 

“The Department of Defense continues to evaluate intelligence that Russian GRU operatives were engaged in malign activity against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan.  To date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

“Regardless, we always take the safety and security of our forces in Afghanistan – and around the world - most seriously and therefore continuously adopt measures to prevent harm from potential threats,” he continued.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE has claimed that he was not briefed on the details of the intelligence, which were first reported by The New York Times on Friday.

“Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!” Trump tweeted on Sunday, referring to the reports.

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Multiple outlets reported that Trump was briefed on the intelligence and that administration officials had not authorized any further actions.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that intelligence assessments concluded that the payments led to the deaths of U.S. service members, and The Associated Press reported Monday that top White House officials were aware of intelligence indicating that Russia was offering the bounties in early 2019.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling for answers on the reports, including top GOP officials.

White house press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told “Fox & Friends” on Monday that lawmakers would be briefed on the matter.

“Intelligence, we don’t comment on it routinely but just so you know how it works, it is vetted for its veracity and it only goes to the president and the high-level officials when it is deemed as verifiable and credible,” she added.

On Monday, the White House briefed at least seven House Republicans: Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryGovernors urge negotiators to include top priorities in final defense policy bill Overnight Defense: Armed Services chairman unsold on slashing defense budget | Democratic Senate report details 'damage, chaos' of Trump foreign policy | Administration approves .8B Taiwan arms sales Chamber of Commerce endorses former White House physician Ronny Jackson for Congress MORE (Texas), House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulBiden pushes into Trump territory Trump appointee sparks bipartisan furor for politicizing media agency Biden endorses Texas Democratic House candidate Julie Oliver MORE (Texas), and Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Steve King defends past comments on white supremacy, blasts NYT and GOP leaders in fiery floor speech GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power MORE (Wyo.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Jim Banks (Ind.), Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerFox News reporter defends confirming Atlantic piece despite Trump backlash: 'I feel very confident' GOP lawmaker defends Fox reporter after Trump calls for her firing Lindsey Graham: 'QAnon is bats--- crazy' MORE (Ill.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikWomen gain uneven footholds in Congress, state legislatures Republicans cast Trump as best choice for women The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Pence rips Biden as radical risk MORE (N.Y.). 

A group of House Democrats will be briefed early Tuesday. Senators will also have access to intelligence documents related to the reports.