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.
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!!! https://t.co/cowOmP7T1S— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2020
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."
...Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine - Where’s Hunter? Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their “source”?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2020
Former acting DNI director Richard Grenell said he never heard the allegations.
I never heard this. And it’s disgusting how you continue to politicize intelligence. You clearly don’t understand how raw intel gets verified. Leaks of partial information to reporters from anonymous sources is dangerous because people like you manipulate it for political gain. https://t.co/403X9AVGAC— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) June 27, 2020
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."
DEVELOPING: A senior intel official tells @CBSNews the GRU/Taliban bounty allegations were not contained in the President's Daily Brief (PDB) which is the highly classified, daily summary of national security issues delivered to the President, key cabinet secretaries + advisers..— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) June 28, 2020
talks with the Taliban, intel about a GRU operation involving the Taliban, targeting US forces would have risen to the level of inclusion in the PDB. @CBSNews— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) June 28, 2020