WASHINGTON (AP) – United States President Donald Trump denied Sunday that he received information from US intelligence that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants for killing US troops in Afghanistan. , and seemed to minimize the accusations against Moscow.
US intelligence officials concluded months ago that Russian officials offered rewards for successful attacks on US service members last year, at a time when the United States and the Taliban were in talks to end the long-running war, according to The New York Times.
Trump, in a Sunday morning tweet, said: “No one informed me or told me” or Vice President Mike Pence or Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about “the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by the Russians.”
“Everyone denies it and there have not been many attacks on us,” he said.
The White House released a statement Saturday denying that Trump or Pence have been informed of such intelligence. “This does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence, but to the imprecision of the New York Times story that erroneously suggests that President Trump was informed on this matter,” said press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Trump’s director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, also said that neither the president nor the vice president “were informed of any alleged intelligence” in the Times report and said the White House statement was “accurate.”
Trump’s tweet came a day after alleged Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said the report, if correct, was a “truly shocking revelation” about the commander-in-chief and his failure to protect US troops in Afghanistan. and face Russia.
Russia called the report “nonsense.”
“This unsophisticated plant clearly illustrates the low intellectual capacities of the American intelligence propagandists, who instead of inventing something more plausible have to invent this nonsense,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry.
A Taliban spokesman said the militants “firmly reject this accusation” and are not “indebted to the beneficence of any intelligence agency or foreign country.”
John Bolton, a former national security adviser who was ousted by Trump last September and who has now written a revealing book about his time in the White House, said Sunday that “it is quite remarkable that the president goes out of his way to say he has not heard nothing about it, one asks, why would I do something like that?
Bolton told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he believes the answer “may be precisely because an active Russian aggression like that against US service members is a very, very serious matter and nothing has been done about it, if It is true, during these last four or five months, so it may seem that he was negligent. But, of course, he can repudiate everything if nobody tells him. “
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a member of the “Gang of Eight” congressional leaders, briefed on sensitive intelligence issues, told ABC “This Week” that she had not been informed of the reported rewards and He requested a report from Congress on the matter.
“This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians in this regard, he denies being informed.” Whether it is or not, your administration knows it and our allies. Some of our allies working with us in Afghanistan have been informed and accept this report, “he said.
The Times, citing unidentified officials familiar with the intelligence, said the findings were presented to Trump and discussed by his National Security Council in late March. Officials developed possible responses, starting with a diplomatic complaint to Russia, but the White House has yet to authorize any steps, according to the report.
Trump responded to Biden on Twitter, saying, “Russia ate his and Obama’s lunch during his time in office.”
But it was the Obama administration, along with international allies, that suspended Russia from the Group of Eight after its unilateral annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, a move that generated widespread condemnation.
Biden criticized Trump for “his shameful campaign of deference and degradation” before Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Trump tweeted that “No one has been tougher” on Russia than his administration.