The New York Times on Friday published a story claiming that Russia secretly offered bounties to Taliban forces to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Times cited an anonymous source, claiming White House officials were “briefed on the matter.”
The President quickly condemned the report as “fake news.”
“Nobody briefed or told me, VP Pence, or Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an “anonymous source” by the Fake News New York Times,” Trump said in a pair of tweets Sunday morning.
THERE WAS NO SUCH REPORT, NOTHING IN A PRESIDENTIAL BRIEFING
Late this afternoon, a senior intelligence official told Catherine Herridge of CBS News that there is no such intelligence report and it was not in any of the presidential briefings. She reported the information in a series of tweets:
“A senior intel official tells CBS News that the GRU/Taliban bounty allegations were not contained in the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) which is the highly classified, daily summary of national security issues delivered to the President, key cabinet secretaries + advisers.”
“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 talks with the Taliban, intel about a GRU operation involving the Taliban, targeting US forces would have risen to the level of inclusion in the PDB.
DEVELOPING: A senior intel official tells @CBSNews the GRU/Taliban bounty allegations were not contained in the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) which is the highly classified, daily summary of national security issues delivered to the President, key cabinet secretaries + advisers..
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) June 28, 2020
TRUMP’S PRESS SECRETARY RESPONDS
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, on Saturday said Trump and Pence were not briefed on “the alleged Russian bounty intelligence and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe issued a similar statement confirming they were not briefed on the intelligence.
“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,” Ratcliffe said, according to the UPI.
RUSSIA & THE TALIBAN RESPOND
Dmitry Peskov, press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the Kremlin had not been made aware of the accusations, The New York Times reported, and the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., denounced the report as “baseless allegations.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also denied that insurgents have “any such relations” with Russia or any other intelligence agency.
“These kinds of deals with the Russian intelligence agency are baseless — our target killings and assassinations were ongoing in years before and we did it on our own resources,” he said, according to The New York Times. “That changed after our deal with the Americans, and their lives are secure and we don’t attack them.”