President Trump said Sunday night that US intelligence was unable to confirm an explosive story that Russian military officials offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants for killing US troops in Afghanistan.
The New York Times, citing unidentified officials, reported Friday that some “Islamist militants” or “criminal elements” are believed to have collected payments. The report noted that 20 Americans were killed there in 2019. It was unclear if any of those deaths was the result of a reward.
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“Intel just informed me that they did not find this information credible and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly yet another Russia hoax fabricated, perhaps by fake news @NYTimesbnooks, that wants to make Republicans look bad. “
TASS, the state news agency, reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry called the reports “falsifying information.” A Taliban spokesman also denied any truth to the report.
Thomas Joscelyn, principal investigator for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a group of experts, told the Wall Street Journal that “Moscow’s willingness to embrace the Taliban openly and publicly dates back several years” and would not be surprised if there is some truth. The report.
“The truly shocking revelation that if the Times report is true, and I emphasize it again, is that President Trump, the commander-in-chief of US troops serving in a dangerous war scenario, has known this for months, according to the Times, and it made it worse than nothing, “said Joe Biden, the alleged Democratic candidate, during a virtual town hall.
The White House said neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence were informed of such intelligence. “This does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story that erroneously suggests that President Trump was informed on this matter,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
The Times report sent a shock wave through the Capitol on Friday, where politicians have focused on the recent unrest after George Floyd’s death in police custody and what many refer to as a resurgent coronavirus outbreak.
The newspaper said Trump received intelligence information and that the administration’s National Security Council considered issuing a diplomatic complaint to Moscow. The report says Russia is waging what is known as a hybrid war with the United States, consisting of cyber attacks and military operations that can be denied.
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Trump’s tweet was in response to Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., who previously tweeted that it is “imperative that Congress get to the bottom” of the report.
Associated Press contributed to this report.