President Donald Trump said he had never been informed of explosive reports that Russia had offered militants in Afghanistan bonuses for killing American soldiers.
During the weekend, The New York Times reported that a Russian military intelligence unit had secretly offered to reward Last year, militants linked to the Taliban managed to target coalition forces, including American troops.
Quoting US officials “informed about the matter,” the newspaper said America was aware of Russia’s actions “months ago,” Trump was briefed and the House’s National Security Council Blanche discussed the issue in late March.
“Officials have drawn up a menu of potential options, starting with a diplomatic complaint in Moscow and a request for a stop, as well as a series of escalating sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has not still allowed no action, “he said. .
Twenty U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan in 2019. It is not known how many of these deaths, if any, were related to Russian participation, but according to the Time there is information to suggest that the premium money has changed hands.
Today The Washington Post reported that the bribes had caused “several” deaths, but he did not give a precise figure.
The White House did not dispute the media’s characterization of the underlying intelligence, but it did contradict a crucial part of the story. He indicates that Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were in fact not informed.
“The United States receives thousands of intelligence reports a day, and it is subject to rigorous scrutiny,” said press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
“Although the White House does not regularly comment on suspected intelligence or internal deliberations, the CIA director, the national security adviser and the chief of staff can all confirm that neither the president nor the Vice-President were only informed of the information regarding the alleged information on Russian bonuses. “
National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe also released a statement on the subject. He said he confirmed that “neither the president nor the vice-president was ever informed of any information” reported by the Time.
CBS News national security reporter Catherine Herridge says the National Security Council went through its files and found no evidence that the bonus claims were ever included in Mr. Trump’s daily security briefing national.
And today, the president himself has declared that no one had spoken to him about the “alleged attacks” against American troops.
“Everyone denies it and there haven’t been many attacks on us,” said Trump, dismissing the story as “just another fake.” Time hit the job. “
TRUMP ‘KEPT IN THE DARK’
If Mr. Trump really hasn’t been informed of a serious allegation that Russia was orchestrating attacks against American troops, there is a fairly obvious follow-up question – why not?
As recently as May, months after US intelligence discovered the alleged bonus system, Trump was pushing for Russia to be re-admitted to the prestigious Group of 7, which currently includes the United States. , Germany, France, Great Britain, Japan, Canada and Italy.
Russia was expelled from the group in 2014 after annexing Crimea to Ukraine. Letting him come back would be a diplomatic boon for President Vladimir Putin.
“Why hasn’t the president or vice president been informed?” Who knew and when? “Republican MP Liz Cheney asked today.
It was taken over by other Republicans, including former Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw.
“There is no right answer here. Either he knew it, and with that knowledge, he was still talking about bringing Russia into the G7. If he was not informed, then the question is, why was he not informed? ” said NBC anchor Chuck Todd.
“It is striking how careful these White House statements are, not to dispute the facts of the intelligence reports, but at the same time only challenge the idea that the president and the vice president were informed.
“It’s just, it’s amazing to me, to proactively admit that the president is kept in the dark about something so alarming.”
Trump finally provided an explanation at around 11 p.m. local time, saying that “Intel” told him they hadn’t informed him because they didn’t find the information “credible”.
Trump’s political opponents, the Democrats, are not buying it.
Presidential rival in the next election, former Vice President Joe Biden, called Russia’s history “shocking” and “beyond pallor”, rejecting the White House insistence that Mr. Trump was not aware of the information.
“The commander-in-chief of the American troops, serving in the dangerous theater of war, has known for months Timeand does worse than nothing, “said Mr. Biden.
“Not only did he not sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this blatant violation of international law, Donald Trump continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and worthlessness before Vladimir Putin.
“It is a betrayal of the most sacred duty we have as a nation to protect and equip our troops when we send them into danger.
“It is a betrayal of every American family with a loved one in Afghanistan or elsewhere abroad.”
His Democratic colleague, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, went even further, suggesting that Trump was reluctant to face Russia because the country “has something” with him.
“It is as bad as possible, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this point,” said Pelosi.
“Just like I said to the president, with him all roads lead to Putin. I don’t know what the Russians have on the president – politically, personally, financially or anything – but he wants to ignore, he wants to bring them back to the G8.
“The president wants to ignore any allegations against Russia.”
She said Mr. Trump “should have been informed”.
“You would think that the minute the president heard about it, he would like to know more rather than deny that he knew anything,” said Pelosi.
“If he has not been (informed), what does that mean about the fear that those who informed the president not to go near Russia’s problem with the president?”
“How else could you explain his refusal to – ignore, over and over again, the information that right out the door of Russia this involvement in our elections, for example?
“Now he says that is false news. Why would he say that? Why wouldn’t he say, “Let’s see this? How do you respond to the family members of those who serve there, and he is engaged in peace negotiations with the Taliban, and he embraces Putin in every way?
“Something is wrong with this picture.”
Senator Tammy Duckworth, a former U.S. Army lieutenant-colonel, said she would press for the Senate to investigate the matter.
“Russia is secretly paying militants to kill American troops, Trump has known for months, but apparently has done nothing to stop them. Meanwhile, it is helping Russia’s efforts to join the G7, ”she said.
“Our troops deserve to know what the Trump administration is doing to protect them and why Donald Trump did not take action in the first place.”
And General Michael Hayden, former CIA director and frequent critic of Trump, asked why the president still hadn’t acted to punish Russia.
“Trump says he was not informed of the Russian bonuses on American troops in Afghanistan. OK fine. What is he doing now? ” General Hayden said.