Trump: Russia Bounties Report Another 'Phony Times Hit Job'

Posted: Jun 29, 2020 7:30 AM
Trump: Russia Bounties Report Another 'Phony Times Hit Job'

Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

President Trump on Sunday denied he was briefed about allegations that Russia gave the Taliban bounty payments to kill U.S. and British troops in Afghanistan.

“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!” he tweeted in response to Sen. Lindsey Graham questioning the reports.

American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.

The United States concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year.

Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings were under suspicion.

The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. (NYT)

Earlier, Trump had called the report a "phony Times hit job."

Former acting DNI director Richard Grenell said he never heard the allegations.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also said Trump and Pence were not briefed. “This does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter."

Catherine Herridge, CBS' senior investigative correspondent, said according to her sources, the president was not briefed on the matter and the National Security Council has "not found the 'intelligence assessment' described in media reporting."