Monday, June 29, 2020

Trump Denies Being Briefed about Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops

Benedict Arnold or Andrew Johnson?

Donald Trump has said intelligence about a Russian plot to offer bounties to Taliban militants in exchange for fatal attacks on coalition troops in Afghanistan was not ‘credible’ and was therefore not reported to him. Trump gave the explanation in a tweet on Sunday night, and dismissed the widely reported allegations as ‘possibly another fabricated Russia hoax.’

“Trump has come under pressure to explain why he had not heard about the Russia offer even though US security officials have been weighing a response to the plot since at least March. Top administration officials, including members of Trump’s national security council, have been discussing the Russian bounty offer for months, the New York Times first reported.

“Earlier on Sunday, Trump claimed never to have heard about the Russian offer – and he questioned whether such an offer had been made. ‘Nobody briefed or told me, [vice president Mike] Pence, or chief of staff Mark Meadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians,’ Trump tweeted in part. ‘Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us …’” (The Guardian).


  1. "Russian bounties offered to Taliban militants in Afghanistan to kill US or UK troops there are believed to have resulted in the deaths of multiple US troops, the Washington Post reported Sunday, citing US intelligence gathered from military interrogations.

    "Multiple people familiar with the matter told the Post it is not clear how many US troops may have been killed as a result of the bounties.

    "CNN previously reported that Russian intelligence officers for the military intelligence agency GRU recently offered money to Taliban militants in Afghanistan as rewards if they killed US or UK troops there, according to a European intelligence official. The official told CNN the incentives offered by the Russians had, in their assessment, led to Coalition casualties, which would be service members' deaths or injuries. The official did not specify as to the date of the casualties, their number or nationality, or whether these were fatalities or injuries.

    "There was discussion as far back as February and March in the US intelligence community and among the top military commanders about the Russian operation to assess the intelligence and what exactly was happening, a US official told CNN on Sunday. There were some efforts at protecting US forces because of the intelligence, the source also said..." (CNN).

  2. “…Trump has on many occasions gone out of his way to publicly defer to the Russian leader, and in recent weeks, he has pressed to restore Russia to the meetings of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations, from which it was excluded after its invasion of Crimea in 2014. ‘This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score,’ Pelosi said of the bounty report, suggesting that the president might be behaving under some sort of duress… Former national security advisor John Bolton, who was ousted from the White House last September, said on CNN’s State of the Union that Trump’s ‘fundamental focus’ was not on national security, or protecting American troops. ‘So what is the presidential reaction?’ asked Bolton, author of a scathing White House memoir. It’s to say, ‘It’s not my responsibility. No one told me about it’” (LA Times).

  3. “Donald Trump was given a written briefing months ago about intelligence suggesting Russia offered bounties for attacks on US forces in Afghanistan, multiple US media have reported on Monday night. The president said on Sunday he was not told of the allegations because the information was not ‘credible.’

    “The New York Times quoted two sources as saying details were included in a daily intelligence briefing the president received in late February. CNN said an official with direct knowledge told them it was included in the briefing – a written document – briefing ‘sometime in spring.’

    “Senior White House officials were aware as far back as early 2019 and the intelligence assessment was included in at least one of the president’s written daily briefings, the Associated Press reported, according to multiple officials.

    “Trump is said to prefer oral briefings several times a week rather than to read the daily written document prepared for US presidents.

    “The reports emerged late on Monday, after the White House briefed Republican lawmakers on the intelligence assessment. In an unusual step, Democratic lawmakers were not included in the initial briefing, which was conducted by the national security adviser, the director of national intelligence and the White House chief of staff…

    “Trump has publicly attacked the strength of the intelligence about the alleged bounty program. An initial report on the program last week by the New York Times, which has since been widely corroborated, raised the question of why the United States had not taken action in response to the suspected targeting of US soldiers…

    “The Post reported on Monday that the bounty program was believed to have resulted in deaths of US troops. Top Republican members on the House armed services and foreign affairs committees were briefed on Monday by the White House…” (The Guardian).

  4. "US officials discovered Russia's payments to the Taliban to target US troops, but Trump's White House didn't tell House Republicans in a briefing"

    "The Trump administration on Monday briefed several GOP lawmakers on intelligence suggesting Russia paid Taliban-linked militants to target US troops in Afghanistan, but did not tell the House Republicans that US officials had intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia's military intelligence agency (the GRU) to a Taliban-linked account, the New York Times reported.

    "The intercepted data on the financial transfers is corroborated by intelligence gleaned from interrogations of captured Afghan militants and criminals, the Times said, and is among the most significant reported findings regarding the alleged Russian plot so far.

    "Monday's White House briefing for the GOP lawmakers was primarily conducted by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and national security adviser Robert C. O'Brien.

    "The briefing included information supporting the conclusion that Russia ran the bounty operation, as well as information that undermined it."

    -Business Insider.

  5. “…It is impossible to believe that Trump was somehow unaware. Every other senior official in the government would have been made aware of the information; it was widely distributed within the intelligence community by May; and it would have been included in each of the briefings for Trump before his calls with Putin in the last few months.

    “Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA and NSA, made clear that the intelligence agencies regularly brief the president on information that is not 100% verified – that’s how intelligence works. And the former national security adviser Susan Rice explained how she would have dealt with information: ‘Had I, as national security adviser, received even ‘raw’ reporting that Russia was paying to kill US service members, I would have walked straight into the Oval Office to brief the president.’

    “Which leads to the disturbing reality: Trump knew that Russia was paying people to kill American soldiers and he not only did nothing to stop it, but he continued to praise and do favors for Putin. Since the moment Trump asked Putin to hack personal information from Trump’s political opponents in 2016, everyone has wondered why Trump acts as though he is in debt to Putin.

    “Whatever the reason for Trump’s consistent attempts to ingratiate himself with Putin and seek his help at the expense of the American people – from the 2016 campaign to taking Putin’s word over that of the US intelligence community – the result is clear: Putin believes he can act with impunity against the US. In addition to doing so by targeting US soldiers, he is probably attempting to interfere in our election this year, yet again, to help Trump.

    “This story is, of course, much bigger than the Trump-Putin relationship. It is about the danger that lies at the core of the Trump administration. The American president, it has become disturbingly clear, is not looking out for the American people. Trump looks out only for himself – whether it’s asking Russia, China, or Ukraine to help him advance his personal political agenda or continuing to profit off his personal business while in office…” (The Guardian, July 7, 2020).