Pelosi, Schumer request US intelligence leaders brief Congress on reports of Russian bounties

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSupreme Court expands religious rights with trio of rulings Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits Democrats see victory in Trump culture war MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerA renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Trump may be DACA participants' best hope, but will Democrats play ball? MORE (D-N.Y.) requested Monday that two top U.S. intelligence leaders brief the House and Senate on news reports that Russians offered bounties to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan last year.

In a letter to Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Former Trump intelligence officials say they had trouble briefing him on Russia: report GOP senator calls for Russian bounties briefing after reviewing intelligence MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday Top intelligence officials to brief Gang of Eight on Thursday MORE, Pelosi said, "Congress and the country need answers now."

The Speaker also pointed to denials from President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE that he was briefed about the intelligence months ago and noted that the U.S. has not taken any action to respond to the Kremlin aggression and escalation.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The Administration’s disturbing silence and inaction endanger the lives of our troops and our coalition partners," Pelosi said.

"The questions that arise are: was the President briefed, and if not, why not, and why was Congress not briefed ... I therefore request an interagency brief for all House Members immediately," she wrote.

Later on Monday, Schumer issued a statement saying: “I am calling for the Directors of National Intelligence and the CIA to immediately brief all 100 Senators on reports that Russia placed bounties on US troops in Afghanistan. We need to know whether or not President Trump was told this information, and if so, when.”

During a television interview, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said a briefing would occur Monday, but she did not provide details regarding who would conduct the briefing and what members of Congress would attend.

“There will be a briefing today,” McEnany said on "Fox & Friends." “I think it will clear up a lot of the false reporting from The New York Times. The president has made clear that he’s never been briefed.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The New York Times, citing U.S. intelligence officials, first reported Friday that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly sought to offer rewards to Taliban-linked militants to incentivize them to hunt and kill coalition forces in Afghanistan as the Trump administration engaged in peace talks to end the nearly 20-year war.

Trump and other intelligence officials on the National Security Council then discussed the matter in a meeting in late March, where they weighed a series of potential responses; however, no formal steps have been made, the Times reported.

Trump, however, in a late-night tweet Sunday claimed that the U.S. intelligence community deemed the information not credible. 

His remarks went further than those of the White House.

McEnany on Saturday denied Trump or Vice President Pence received a briefing on the intelligence but the accuracy of the intelligence was not challenged or dismissed.

Multiple news outlets have since confirmed The New York Times's reporting about the bounties, with The Washington Post reporting on Sunday that intelligence reports suggested the bounties had resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members in Afghanistan.

Jordain Carney contributed. This report was updated at 12:16 p.m.