Trump not briefed because Russia bounty reports uncorroborated: White House

Reuters
New York, New York, United States of America Published: Jul 01, 2020, 07:14 PM(IST)

Donald Trump Photograph:( Reuters )

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O’Brien, however, declined to say whether the intelligence, which U.S. ally Britain has said it was aware of, had been included in a written presidential briefing earlier this year.

President Donald Trump was not verbally briefed on a reported Russian effort to pay the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan because the allegations were not corroborated at the time, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said on Wednesday.

O’Brien, however, declined to say whether the intelligence, which U.S. ally Britain has said it was aware of, had been included in a written presidential briefing earlier this year.

“The president’s career CIA briefer decided not to brief him because it was unverified intelligence,” O’Brien said on Fox News. He said the CIA briefer was an outstanding officer and he supported her decision.

The Republican president has faced a barrage of criticism after New York Times reports that a Russian military intelligence unit had offered bounties for U.S. and allied soldiers and that Trump received a written briefing on the matter in February.

Also read | Trump says he wasn't briefed on Russia-Taliban bounty intelligence

After Trump initially said he was not briefed on the matter, the White House said Trump was not “personally” briefed but did not address whether he had received a written report or read it, and why he had not responded more aggressively if so.

O’Brien told reporters later that Trump has now been briefed on the Russian bounty reports.

“The president’s been fully briefed,” O’Brien said outside the White House, “We don’t get into written classified documents.”

Democrats on Tuesday called on Trump to consider imposing new economic sanctions on Russia if the information was confirmed.

Trump has tried to deflect criticism by saying the intelligence was not conclusive enough to be brought to his attention, and by calling news reports “fake news.”

Also read | It's all about him: John Bolton criticises Trump's statement on Russian bounties

“I was never briefed because any info that they may have had did not rise to that level,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

Democratic lawmakers have asked for more in-depth briefings on the issue. O’Brien said the Gang of Eight - congressional leaders and intelligence committee lawmakers - would be briefed by intelligence officials, possibly on Wednesday.

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