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Politics Democrats hit Trump for handling of Russian bounty allegations after White House briefing

20:17  30 june  2020
20:17  30 june  2020 Source:   thehill.com

'No consensus' in intelligence community over Russia bounty on U.S. troops report, White House says

  'No consensus' in intelligence community over Russia bounty on U.S. troops report, White House says "The veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a briefing with reporters. "The veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated."The White House briefed members of Congress over the intelligence reports Monday, McEnany told reporters. Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Democrats hit Trump for handling of Russian bounty allegations after White House briefing © Greg Nash Democrats hit Trump for handling of Russian bounty allegations after White House briefing

House Democrats on Tuesday hit President Trump for denying knowledge of intelligence that Russia offered bounties to incentivize Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, rather than vowing to get to the bottom of a matter that suggests U.S. troops are at risk.

In a press conference Tuesday morning, a group of Democrats who had just been briefed at the White House questioned why Trump's advisers did not make sure Trump saw the intelligence as he kept up communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump Pressed by Both Parties for Answers on Bounty Report

  Trump Pressed by Both Parties for Answers on Bounty Report Lawmakers from both parties called on the Trump administration to provide more information about intelligence that Russia put a bounty on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with Democrats questioning why President Donald Trump hasn’t responded. © Bloomberg Steny Hoyer Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said after getting a briefing at the White House Tuesday that he isn’t sure whether Trump has yet heard details about the intelligence days after the first public reports about it. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

"It makes no sense whatsoever for the President and the administration not to call out Putin," House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said at the podium, surrounded by other socially-distanced Democrats. "I don't understand what it is with the president's infatuation with Putin."

Democrats also stressed that the briefing at the White House is not a substitute for a full House briefing and said they want intelligence professionals from the CIA and NSA to conduct the briefings, rather than officials like White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, national security adviser Robert O'Brien, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.

"The right people to give the briefings really were not in the room," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Trump is facing mounting pressure over how long he knew about Russian bounties on US troops. Here's what we know about when he was briefed.

  Trump is facing mounting pressure over how long he knew about Russian bounties on US troops. Here's what we know about when he was briefed. Lawmakers are questioning when Trump was briefed on intelligence about Russian bounties on US troops, and what he did with the information. "If reporting about Russian bounties on US forces is true, the White House must explain: 1: Why weren't the president or vice president briefed? Was the info in the [President's Daily Brief]? 2. Who did know and when? 3. What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold [Russian President Vladimir] Putin accountable?" Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, tweeted Sunday.

"We need to hear from the heads of the intelligence agencies about how they assess the allegations that have been made publicly, what can they tell us about the truth or falsity of these allegations, what can they tell us about steps they are undertaking or have undertaken to vet any information that they may have."

"I think we knew the White House perspective, what we need to know is the intelligence perspective," said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House Majority Leader, adding that they did not receive "any new substantive information."

Democrats, who were limited to what they could say about the intelligence, said they forcefully disagree with President Trump that the allegation about the rewards is a "hoax."

"Nothing in the briefing that we've just received led me to believe it is a hoax," said Hoyer.

The briefing at the White House comes a day after the White House briefed House Republicans about the intelligence, a move that came as the Trump administration faced bipartisan pressure to explain what Trump knew about the threat - or why he didn't.

Trump dismisses Russian bounty allegations as a 'hoax'

  Trump dismisses Russian bounty allegations as a 'hoax' President Trump claimed early Wednesday that reports about suspected Russian bounties on coalition forces in Afghanistan were a "hoax" meant to damage him politically."The Russia Bounty story is just another made up by Fake News tale that is told only to damage me and the Republican Party," Trump tweeted. "The secret source probably does not even exist, just like the story itself. If the discredited @nytimes has a source, reveal it. Just another HOAX!"The Russia Bounty story is just another made up by Fake News tale that is told only to damage me and the Republican Party. The secret source probably does not even exist, just like the story itself.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany on Monday denied that Trump was "personally" briefed on the reported bounties, noting that he was not briefed because of a lack of consensus and "dissenting opinions" within the intelligence community about the credibility of the information. She did not answer questions as to whether Trump received elements of the intelligence in his Daily Presidential Briefing.

Citing officials, The New York Times then reported late Monday that Trump was provided a written briefing in late February.

Democrats suggested the White House has no reason to claim Trump didn't see the intelligence. If he didn't read the briefing, it fell to his advisers to ensure he was aware of the facts, however he best takes in information, they said.

"If a president doesn't read the briefs, it doesn't work to give him a product and not tell him what's in it," Schiff said, noting that that he is speaking generally. "It's not a justification to say that the president should have read whatever materials he has. If the president doesn't read, he doesn't read. They should know that by now."

Top WH aide says CIA official decided against briefing Trump on Russia intel

  Top WH aide says CIA official decided against briefing Trump on Russia intel O'Brien said the president's CIA briefer made the "right call" in not verbally briefing him on the Russian bounty operation."The president's career CIA briefer decided not to brief him because it was unverified intelligence," O'Brien said in an interview with Fox News, adding that she is "an outstanding officer.

Schiff speculated that maybe Trump's advisers were afraid to give the president information that he doesn't want to hear, while Hoyer quoted former national security adviser John Bolton in saying that it is "inconceivable" that matter as grave as U.S. troops being killed did not reach the president.

Others, however, expressed skepticism about the White House claims that the president didn't know.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said based off what he heard at the White House briefing, "it seems to me like [Trump] did know about it."

"Now maybe he was aware of the allegation, looked at it and said, there's nothing to this," Smith said during a separate phone call with reporters during the press conference. "It's hard for me to believe based on the way it was presented that the president knew nothing about it as he stated."

Rebecca Kheel contributed.

Gang of Eight gets Russia bounty briefing amid confusion over Trump's role .
Intelligence community heads are set to brief top congressional leaders on Thursday about the reports that Russia has offered militants in Afghanistan bounties for killing American soldiers, the highest-level briefing for members of Congress on the matter so far. © Provided by FOX News Trump comments on Russian bounties intelligence in Fox Business interview; Kristin Fisher reports from the White House. The 11:30 a.m.

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