President Trump is denying that he was made aware of US intelligence reports that Russia secretly offered bounties to Taliban terrorists for killing American troops in Afghanistan.
The New York Times reported the story, citing anonymous sources who said the president was briefed on the finding.
Military officials confirmed the reports of Russia bounties to other news outlets. But there were conflicting reports about whether the president was ever told.
President Trump tweeted late Sunday night, "Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or the vice president. Possibly another fabricated Russia hoax..."
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
That response came after both Republicans and Democrats in Congress said they wanted answers, and others also raising questions. "This is as bad as it gets," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said.
Former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton said, "If it is true, underline if, they are paying surrogates to kill Americans, this is one of the most serious matters I think that has arisen in the Trump administration."
But former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell supported the president, tweeting, "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."
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
The White House also issued a statement saying neither Trump nor Pence had been briefed on any Russia bounty intelligence. "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," press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.
A senior administration official told the Associated Press that the White House plans to brief select members of Congress about the matter today.