The House Intelligence Committee is slated to be briefed Thursday on the intelligence reports claiming Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants for killing U.S. soldiers, Fox News has learned.
The committee, chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is expected to be briefed on the matter on Thursday at 1 p.m.
The briefing comes after top congressional Democrats visited the White House Tuesday morning for a briefing on the alleged bounties Russia put on American soldiers in Afghanistan, and who at the White House knew about that intelligence and when. Russia has denied the allegations.
Schiff attended the briefing, along with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.; and others. Hoyer and Schiff said they wanted actual members of the intelligence community to brief them rather than White House staff.
After the meeting, Schiff complained that “the right people to give the briefing” were “not in the room.”
Hoyer also said that they “did not receive any new substantive information” and that he did not get assurances from the White House that there would be a full briefing for all members.”
The White House has denied that Trump was briefed on the issue despite reporting to the contrary from outlets like the New York Times, which reported late Monday that the bounty issue was in the written President’s Daily Brief earlier this year. It has been widely reported, however, that Trump does not read the detailed brief regularly and is more often briefed on intelligence issues verbally.
Meanwhile, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien on Wednesday claimed that Trump’s CIA briefer made the call not to share with him the intelligence referencing Russia allegedly offering bounties to Afghan militants for killing U.S. soldiers.
“The president was not briefed because, at the time of these allegations, they were uncorroborated,” O’Brien said, noting that the Pentagon also has said the intelligence was uncorroborated.
“The intelligence community doesn’t have a consensus,” O’Brien continued. “And as a result, the president’s career CIA briefer decided not to brief him because it was unverified intelligence.”
The CIA briefer O’Brien was referring to would have been Beth Sanner, who was the president’s primary intelligence briefer during the time in question when the Russia bounty intelligence emerged. Sanner was appointed as the deputy director of National Intelligence for Mission Integration last year. Sanner had been leading the president’s daily intelligence briefing since April 2017.
O’Brien defended Sanner as “an outstanding officer.”
“Knowing all the facts I know, I certainly support her decision,” O’Brien said Wednesday.
But sources familiar with the president’s intelligence briefings told Fox News that the “daily briefer,” as Sanner was known, does not have the authority to remove an item from the intelligence brief without approval from a more senior official. The sources suggested that, in this case, the CIA director, the director of national intelligence or O’Brien would have been the officials who needed to approve the removal.
The comments come after a senior U.S. official who had been briefed on the matter told Fox News earlier this week that the information that the National Security Council had received was based on “several streams of intelligence of concern” with some of it being contradictory and some open to interpretation.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Tyler Olson, and Gillian Turner contributed to this report.