The White House now says President Donald Trump has been briefed on reports that Russian operatives placed bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
During her press briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “The president has been briefed on what is unfortunately in the public domain because of The New York Times.”
“But that does not change the fact that there is no consensus on this intelligence that still has yet to be verified,” she added.
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The New York Times reported on Friday that Russian operatives offered cash rewards to Taliban militias to attack U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and that Trump had been briefed on the matter, but had been struggling to develop a response.
But the White House and the Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe denied that the president was briefed on the matter.
In a statement over the weekend, Ratcliffe said, “Neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence alleged by the New York Times in its reporting.”
He added, “The White House statement addressing this issue earlier today, which denied such a briefing occurred, was accurate. The New York Times reporting, and all other subsequent news reports about such an alleged briefing are inaccurate.”
On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “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 New.”
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
And on Monday, McEnany explained why Trump had not been briefed, “There’s no consensus among the intelligence community and there are, in fact, dissenting opinions.”
On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) ripped into Trump for saying he had not been briefed, “President Trump, you lose either way. If you weren’t briefed on this important report, how can you run an administration where something this important is not brought to your level? And if you were told about the report and did nothing, that’s even worse. Shame on you.”
He added, “Something—something—doesn’t smell right here, especially when we have a president and an administration who has a great deal of trouble telling the truth. We need answers and we need them fast.”
Several reports on Tuesday said that the intelligence about the Russian bounties was in the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) in the spring.
But McEnany declined to comment on those reports, “The PDB is a top-secret document that is widely disseminated among government. I will never sit here and confirm or deny what is in a top-secret document.”