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 TrumpTrump on Kanye West's presidential run: 'He is always going to be for us' Marie Yovanovitch on Vindman retirement: He 'deserved better than this. Our country deserved better than this' Trump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' 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 ThornberryRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide House panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House Armed Services votes to make Pentagon rename Confederate-named bases in a year MORE (Texas), House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulTrump's WHO decision raises bipartisan concerns in House National security adviser says Trump was not briefed on bounty intelligence, condemns leaks Pentagon: 'No corroborating evidence' yet to validate troop bounty allegations MORE (Texas), and Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneySome in Congress want to keep sending our troops to Afghanistan Biggs, Massie call on Trump to remove troops from Afghanistan Russian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide MORE (Wyo.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Jim Banks (Ind.), Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerPentagon: 'No corroborating evidence' yet to validate troop bounty allegations Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Trump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties MORE (Ill.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Fauci 'aspirationally hopeful' of a vaccine by winter Pentagon: 'No corroborating evidence' yet to validate troop bounty allegations Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police 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.