Inhofe echoes White House message on Russian bounties

Financial transfers from a Russian intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked bank account support detainee information suggesting Russia paid Taliban militant

Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russian Federation was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported, according to us officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence.

"The president does read", said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany during a press briefing.

The revelations cast new doubt on the White House's efforts to distance Trump from the Russian intelligence assessments. John Bolton, who was then the national security adviser, also told colleagues that he briefed Mr Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.

Major news outlets reported that Trump was briefed on the alleged plot earlier this year, with the New York Times reporting that the information was contained in the president's Daily Brief in late February, with one official specifically citing the Feb. 27 report.

Trump sought to cast doubt on the Russian bounty effort, saying on Sunday he was never briefed on the matter and that United States intelligence officials told him this was because the information was not credible.

Several news outlets have also reported that information on the bounties was included in a daily written report delivered to the president in February and in a Central Intelligence Agency publication in May.

"He is constantly being informed and briefed on intelligence matters".

"Their basic position is that there was conflicting intelligence on this and, therefore, they took some actions but not as many as some of us think that they should", he said. "We want to hear from the intelligence agencies". "Nothing in the briefing that we have just received led me to believe it is a hoax", Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, told reporters after leaving the briefing.

However, with the White House, the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) vehemently denying the briefing ever happened, the narrative has shifted. He said Trump's defense that he hadn't been briefed was inexcusable.


After briefing Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the matter this week, McEnany said Trump had been been updated as well.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated during a Sunday interview on ABC's "This Week" that she was looking for the administration to brief Congress on the matter. Either Trump is so in love with Putin that he refuses to act on any negative information about him, or he's so in love with Putin that intelligence officials have concluded that sharing negative information about Russian Federation is wasted effort.

"We need to make sure that members of Congress and the public know whether or not our relationship with Russian Federation is compromised by the relationship between the president and Mr. Putin", Hoyer said.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a statement Tuesday evening the Defense Department "has no corroborating evidence at this time to validate the recent allegations regarding malign activity by Russian personnel against U.S. forces in Afghanistan".

Kinzinger's congressional opponent in November, Dani Brzozowski, D-La Salle, said the congressmen was covering for the president, stating reports are the president "was briefed".

Twenty American troops died in Afghanistan in 2019, but the New York Times said it was not clear which deaths were under suspicion. Three U.S. Marines were killed after a auto rigged with explosives detonated near their armored vehicles as they returned to Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military installation in Afghanistan.

The discrepancy in individuals reactions figures to be a wrench in Congress' skill to react to what quantities to a surprising account of a Russian energy to target USA armed service staff and a person that would, in any other circumstance, very likely prompt a critical and bipartisan response from Capitol Hill. The officials the AP spoke to also said they were looking closely at insider attacks - sometimes called "green-on-blue" attacks - from 2019 to determine if they are also linked to Russian bounties.

As this situation unfolds in real-time, it remains unclear whether or not the veracity of the original intelligence reporting of Unit 29155 activities can be confirmed.

The intelligence officials and others with knowledge of the matter insisted on anonymity to discuss the highly sensitive matter.

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