National Security

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

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (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 Ratcliffe and CIA Director Gina Haspel, Pelosi said, “Congress and the country need answers now.”

The Speaker also pointed to denials from President Trump 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.

“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.”

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.

Tags afghan war Afghanistan Bounties on US troops Charles Schumer Donald Trump Gina Haspel intelligence reports John Ratcliffe Nancy Pelosi Russia
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