Congressional Republicans want answers on reports that Russian military intelligence operatives offered rewards to Taliban militias to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.
On Friday, The New York Times reported that Russian operatives offered rewards to Taliban members to attack and kill U.S. soldiers. The report also said that President Donald Trump has been aware intelligence reports on the matter, but has been trying to develop a response.
Trump and other administration officials have denied that the president was briefed on the reported bounties on U.S. soldiers.
Now, several Republican lawmakers are demanding answers from the White House. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a top House Republican, tweeted, “If reporting about Russian bounties on US forces is true, the White House must explain: 1. Why weren’t the president or vice president briefed? Was the info in the PDB? 2. Who did know, and when? 3. What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable.”
If reporting about Russian bounties on US forces is true, the White House must explain:— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) June 28, 2020
1. Why weren’t the president or vice president briefed? Was the info in the PDB?
2. Who did know and when?
3. What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?
I expect the Trump Administration to take such allegations seriously and inform Congress immediately as to the reliability of these news reports.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) June 27, 2020
This is exactly right. We need answers. https://t.co/WloVGAFtsp— Rep. Dan Crenshaw (@RepDanCrenshaw) June 28, 2020
Absolutely. https://t.co/rnCTWiC3He— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) June 28, 2020
Other Republicans echoed her sentiment on Twitter:
CBS News’ Catherine Herridge reported that intelligence officials did not brief the president or other high-level administration officials on the matter.
Additionally, Herridge reports that the National Security Council (NSC) officials said they could not find the “intelligence assessment” about Russians putting bounties on American soldiers.
The official confirmed the NSC has been doing “due diligence,” and going back through their files since the story broke Friday, and they have not found the “intelligence assessment” described in media reporting. The official said the review is ongoing, but given current…— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) June 28, 2020
The Times reported on Sunday that U.S. officials found large amounts of cash after a raid on a Taliban outpost that led to the reported discovery that Russia had paid Taliban operatives to kill U.S. soldiers.
“How else would you explain his refusal to even — to ignore, again and again, the intelligence that puts right at the Russian doorstep?” she said.
“With him, all roads lead to Putin. I don’t know what the Russians have on the president, politically, personally, financially, or whatever it is, but he wants to ignore, he wants to bring them back to the G-8 despite the annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine,” she added.
Trump has denied that he was briefed on the matter and questioned the accuracy of the story.