Remember when the New York Times published a story claiming Russia was paying the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan? And that President Donald Trump knew about it and did nothing? That story is being walked back by U.S. intelligence officials. From the Daily Beast:
It was a huge election-time story that prompted cries of treason. But according to a newly disclosed assessment, Donald Trump might have been right to call it a “hoax.”
It was a blockbuster story about Russia’s return to the imperial “Great Game” in Afghanistan. The Kremlin had spread money around the longtime central Asian battlefield for militants to kill remaining U.S. forces. It sparked a massive outcry from Democrats and their #resistance amplifiers about the treasonous Russian puppet in the White House whose admiration for Vladimir Putin had endangered American troops.
But on Thursday, the Biden administration announced that U.S. intelligence only had “low to moderate” confidence in the story after all. Translated from the jargon of spyworld, that means the intelligence agencies have found the story is, at best, unproven—and possibly untrue.
It was a thinly backed claim at the time and today, we know it was never true. This of course was what the Trump White House repeatedly said at the time, but the media continued to run with the Russia story as true.
"It is inexcusable the failed Russia reporting of the New York Times and I think it's time that the New York Times and also the Washington Post, hand back their Pulitzers," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at the time. "The U.S. receives thousands of reports a day on intelligence and they are subject to strict scrutiny. While the White House does no routinely comment on alleged intelligence or internal deliberations the CIA director, NSA - National Security Advisor, and the Chief of Staff can all confirm than neither the President nor the Vice President were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence."
"There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations and in effect there are dissenting opinions from some in the intelligence community with regard to the veracity of what's being reported and the veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated," she continued.
We repeatedly told the public this story was unverified & unproven. @robertcobrien went to the sticks at the @WhiteHouse & said it directly. I saw the intel. The media failed on the reporting around this & the public was misled https://t.co/PfxVrVZXDb— Alyssa Farah (@Alyssafarah) April 15, 2021
Hilarious - The Washington Post's fact-checker @GlennKesslerWP gave Trump "Four Pinocchios" in part for saying he wasn't briefed on the Russia Bounty story, but also for dismissing it as unproven "Fake News":https://t.co/VYGQbwA8UH— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 15, 2021
This is infuriating. The media is so partisan.— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) April 15, 2021
And they don’t care. https://t.co/KI5YMQ3j2E
Despite thin, anonymous sourcing of the story, then Vice President Biden repeatedly used the story to attack President Donald Trump during the 2020 election. Biden essentially accused Trump of treason and called his supposed inaction a "betrayal of his most sacred duty."