O’Brien says a senior CIA official decided not to inform Trump about Russia’s reward

Washington National security adviser Robert O’Brien said Wednesday that the CIA’s senior career officer who reports to President Trump in person made the decision not to verbally report on intelligence on a Russian scheme to offer rewards aimed at US troops in Afghanistan, saying he did not trust the veracity of intelligence.

“The president’s brief CIA career decided not to inform him because it was unverified intelligence,” O’Brien said in an interview with Fox News, adding that she is “an outstanding officer.”

O’Brien told reporters at the White House after his interview that the CIA officer who serves as the president’s brief president, whom he did not identify, decided not to tell Mr. Trump about the Russian reward operation “because he did not I was confident in the intelligence that came out. “

“We get raw intelligence and tactical intelligence every day, hundreds of pieces of intelligence come in every day, thousands of pieces of intelligence arrive in a week,” he said. “She made that call and, you know what, I think she made the right call, so I’m not going to criticize it. And knowing the facts that I know now, I support that call.”

Trump’s intelligence consumption, both through the President’s Daily Brief, a daily written summary, and his in-person intelligence reports, has come under scrutiny after the New York Times reported Friday that the U.S. had Intelligence indicating that a Russian military espionage unit offered cash payments to soldiers linked to the Taliban for killing US troops and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump, O’Brien and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said that neither the President nor the Vice President were informed about the Russian operation targeting US soldiers because intelligence was not verified by the intelligence community. But the Times and Associated Press reported this week that the information was included in Trump’s written intelligence reports.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Tuesday that the president was briefed “on what is unfortunately in the public domain.”

“You have been informed,” he said, “but that does not change the fact that there is no consensus on this intelligence that has not yet been verified.”

O’Brien told reporters that the president is now “fully aware of the situation.” But he noted that once the US received raw intelligence on Russian rewards, the coalition forces and the US took notice even though the intelligence was not verified.

“The Defense Department came out and said that as soon as we had this information, we made sure we had tactics, we took protective measures to care for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in Afghanistan. That has not been reported. That was done. good, “he said. “Here at the White House, when we had this raw intelligence, we started an inter-institutional process to see the options, so that if the intelligence was verified, if it could be corroborated, we would have options to go to the president to deal with the Russian situation “

The matter has raised doubts among Democrats and Republicans who urge the White House to provide them with more information about the Russian operation, including what Trump knew and when. Meanwhile, the White House has punished the New York Times for its intelligence report and criticized the unidentified official who leaked the information to the press.

O’Brien told reporters he believes the CIA filed a “crime report” with the Justice Department regarding the
leakage. On Tuesday, the Justice Department declined to comment on whether they are investigating who leaked the Russian reward finding, after McEnany was pressured whether the Trump administration is taking steps to identify the government official.

“These are important allegations and if they are substantiated, I can guarantee you that the President would take strong action,” he said. “We have been working for several months on options for the President of the United States in case this is not corroborated, as the Defense Department calls it, uncorroborated evidence turned out to be true. Now it may be impossible to get to this. This is because that some government official decided to filter the charges before we had a chance to get to the bottom. “

White House officials met with a group of House Republicans and a group of House Democrats separately this week to discuss Russian reward intelligence, though Democrats who attended their meeting on Tuesday said they did not listen. key officials within the intelligence community nor learned anything new.

The White House is expected to hold a briefing with the so-called “Band of Eight” – leaders of the House and Senate, and leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees – on Capitol Hill on Thursday, senior officials said. administration officials at CBS News.

Fin Gomez contributed to this report.