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National security adviser says Trump was not briefed on bounty intelligence, condemns leaks

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien on Tuesday said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE was not briefed on reports that Russian intelligence services offered bounties to Afghan militants for killing coalition forces.

“Over the past several days, the New York Times and other news outlets have reported on allegations regarding our troops in Afghanistan,” O'Brien said in a statement. “While we do not normally discuss such matters, we constantly evaluate intelligence reports and brief the President as necessary.”

“Because the allegations in recent press articles have not been verified or substantiated by the Intelligence Community, President Trump had not been briefed on the items. Nevertheless, the Administration, including the National Security Council staff, have been preparing should the situation warrant action,” he added.

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O’Brien also excoriated the intelligence leak, saying, “To those government officials who betray the trust of the people of the United States by leaking classified information, your actions endanger our national security. No matter the motivation, there is never a justification for such conduct.”

The New York Times first reported on the alleged bounties on Friday, prompting Trump to deny on Sunday that he had been briefed on them. However, several outlets have reported he was briefed on the allegations and that the administration authorized no further action.

The Washington Post on Sunday reported that U.S. intelligence has concluded the alleged offer has led to the deaths of multiple service members, while The Associated Press reported Monday that the White House was aware of intelligence concerning the alleged bounties as early as 2019.

The White House on Monday briefed several House Republicans, including House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyPressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Trump: Liz Cheney's election remarks sparked by push to bring US troops home Biden's lead over Trump surpasses 6M votes as more ballots are tallied MORE (Wyo.) and Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense: Pentagon prepping for Trump order to draw down in Afghanistan, Iraq | Questions swirl after DOD purge | 10th service member killed by COVID-19 Former VOA producer sues US global media agency over termination Record number of women to serve in the next Congress MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on the matter. A group of their Democratic colleagues is set to be briefed Tuesday morning.