Trump briefed on Russian bounties in February, report says

Nancy Pelosi

The New York Times, which first reported on the alleged payments on June 26, said on June 30 that Trump received a written briefing about alleged Russian bounties offered to Afghan militants to kill USA troops as early as February.

News reports on the bounties, and about whether Mr Trump knew about them, have drawn fresh attention to the president's efforts to build warmer relations with the Kremlin.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during the press briefing at the White House in Washington on June 29, 2020.

- Is he upset that this intelligence was reportedly shared with the British government, but not him?

The Times report, which has been confirmed by several American and British media outlets, said that United States intelligence concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants to kill troops of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan.

Republicans who were in the briefing Monday expressed alarm about Russia's activities in Afghanistan.

Several House Democrats are scheduled to receive a similar intelligence briefing at the White House on Tuesday. McCaul and Kinzinger said in a statement that lawmakers were told "there is an ongoing review to determine the accuracy of these reports".

National security adviser Robert O'Brien in a statement said that Trump was not briefed on the matter due to it being unverified or unsubstantiated by the intelligence community.

Late Monday, a White House official said Trump has been briefed on the intelligence behind reports of Russian bounties on USA troops in Afghanistan and said the briefing took place "after the NY Times reported on unverified intelligence".

Officials said they did not consider the intelligence assessments in 2019 to be particularly urgent, given that Russian meddling in Afghanistan is not a new occurrence. "In this case it wasn't verified", she said.

Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, echoed her call. "And would he tell Putin what they knew?"

The intelligence in 2019 and 2020 surrounding Russian bounties was derived in part from debriefings of captured Taliban militants. "CIA will continue to pursue every lead; analyze the information we collect with critical, objective eyes; and brief reliable intelligence to protect USA forces deployed around the world".

"If intelligence reports are verified that Russian Federation or any other country is placing bounties on American troops, then they need to be treated as a state sponsor of terrorism", tweeted Thom Tillis, a Republican on the Senate Armed Forces committee.

However, if these reports are confirmed and American service members were found to have been killed as a result, an even stronger response will be required. "So, this is, this is a more leaks and partisanship".

The intelligence that surfaced in early 2019 indicated Russian operatives had become more aggressive in their desire to contract with the Taliban and members of the Haqqani Network, a militant group aligned with the Taliban in Afghanistan and designated a foreign terrorist organisation in 2012 during the Obama administration.

The intelligence community has been investigating an April 2019 attack on an American convoy that killed three U.S. Marines after a auto rigged with explosives detonated near their armoured vehicles as they travelled back to Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military installation in Afghanistan, officials told the AP.

Russian Federation and the Taliban have denied the existence of any bounty to kill US troops.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Three US Marines were killed after a auto rigged with explosives detonated near their armoured vehicles as they returned to Bagram Airfield, the largest US military installation in Afghanistan.

Republican lawmakers who have been briefed about reports alleging that Russian Federation paid the Taliban bounties to kill US troops in Afghanistan are calling for consequences for Russian Federation, if the reports are true.

Senator Todd Young sent a letter to President Trump, demanding a swift response to the reports. Bolton declined to comment, and the White House did not respond to questions on the matter.



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