Trump Reportedly Briefed On Alleged Russian Bounties At Least Three Times Since March 2019

TOPLINE

President Trump received a written briefing and a briefing from then-National Security Advisor John Bolton in early 2019, and another written briefing this February, about intelligence that suggests Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters for killing U.S. soldiers, according to reports from the New York Times and the Associated Press.

US President Donald Trump prays at his desk as he participates in an Easter Blessing with Bishop … [+] Harry Jackson at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 10, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

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KEY FACTS

The Times reported on Friday that a Russian military unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan for assassinating coalition forces in the country, including American soldiers.

The initial report suggested that the intelligence findings were “briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March.”

Trump and the White House have pushed back on the claim that he was briefed, with Trump tweeting that “nobody briefed or told” him, Vice President Mike Pence or Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, slamming the article as “reported through an ‘anonymous source’ by the Fake News New York Times,” and claiming “everybody is denying it.”

Other administration officials didn’t offer such direct denials, with CIA Director Gina Haspel releasing a statement saying “preliminary Force Protection information is shared throughout the national security community,” decrying leaks to journalists, and declaring that the CIA will continue to “brief reliable intelligence to protect U.S. forces deployed around the world.”

Top White House officials were aware of the intelligence in early 2019, according to a report from the Associated Press on Monday, which also claims that then-National Security Advisor John Bolton told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence in March 2019, and that it was included in one the president’s written daily intelligence briefings around that time.

Trump also received a written briefing on an investigation into the bounties as part of the President’s Daily Brief in late February of this year, the Times reported Monday.

Chief Critic

Trump has come under fire from Democrats, who have slammed his alleged silence on the intelligence and his lack of retaliation towards Russia, whose return to G7 meetings he advocated in May. “He knew. They lied. This is a dereliction of duty,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said in reaction to the reports. But some Republicans have also criticized the White House and asked for transparency. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Sunday demanded answers from the White House on whether the president and vice president were briefed and whether the information was in the President’s Daily Briefing, who knew about the intelligence and when, and “what has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?”

Key Background

The White House briefed eight House Republicans on the intelligence Monday morning, but excluded Democrats. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, came away from the briefing criticizing the Times report as a “hit piece falsely accusing Donald Trump of ignoring reports.” He also claimed it is “impossible to finish the investigation,” which he said is ongoing, because of the report.

Big Number

18. U.S. forces in Afghanistan have suffered 18 fatalities from hostile gunfire or improvised bombs between 2019 and 2020, several of which are believed to have resulted from the bounties, according to a Washington Post report. The Times report also suggested that intelligence officials were specifically investigating a truck bombing in April 2019 that killed 3 marines in connection with the bounties.

What To Watch For

A group of Democrats, led by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is expected to attend a briefing at the White House on Tuesday at 8 a.m.

This article was originally published on this site.

This article was originally published on this site