Politics National security adviser says Trump’s CIA briefer decided not to share Russia bounty intel
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National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien on Wednesday claimed that President Trump’s CIA briefer made the call not to share with him the intelligence referencingallegedly offering bounties to Afghan militants for killing U.S. soldiers.
O’Brien, during an interview with “Fox & Friends,” was asked about the bombshell New York Times report that said Trump was briefed on theand that he did nothing about it. He maintained that the president “was not 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.
“The president was not briefed because, at the time of these allegations, they were uncorroborated,” O’Brien said, noting that the Pentagon also has said the intelligence was uncorroborated.
“The intelligence community doesn’t have a consensus,” O’Brien continued. “And as a result, the president’s career CIA briefer decided not to brief him because it was unverified intelligence.”
The CIA briefer O’Brien was referring to would have been Beth Sanner, who was the president’s primary intelligence briefer during the time in question when the Russia bounty intelligence emerged. Sanner was appointed as the deputy director of National Intelligence for Mission Integration last year. Sanner had been leading the president’s daily intelligence briefing since April 2017.
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O’Brien defended Sanner as “an outstanding officer.”
“Knowing all the facts I know, I certainly support her decision,” O’Brien said Wednesday.
But sources familiar with the president’s intelligence briefings told Fox News that the “daily briefer,” as Sanner was known, does not have the authority to remove an item from the intelligence brief without approval from a more senior official. The sources suggested that, in this case, the CIA director, the director of national intelligence or O’Brien would have been the officials who needed to approve the removal.
The comments come after a senior U.S. official who had been briefed on the matter told Fox News earlier this week that the information that the National Security Council had received was based on “several streams of intelligence of concern” with some of it being contradictory and some open to interpretation.
Dem rep accuses Trump of ‘treason’ over Russia bounty report
Rep. Seth Moulton, a former Marine Corps officer, accused President Trump of "treason" on Wednesday over reports that Russia paid bounties to Afghan fighters to kill American soldiers and the White House took no action in response. © Provided by FOX News The Trump administration is pushing back on reports that the president was briefed on Russia putting bounties on U.S. troops; Kristin Fisher reports from the White House. Moulton, a former platoon commander in Iraq, said if he led his Marines into an ambush because he failed to read an intelligence report he would be in prison.
A separate source within the military told Fox News on Monday that special operations forces this year raided a Taliban outpost and recovered roughly $500,000, with a subsequent interrogation of an Afghan fighter revealing that the money came from Russia.
The source added, however, that the information was unable to be easily verified and the incident was not included in briefings to senior leaders at the Pentagon.
A Washington Post report indicated that Russian bounties are "believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members." The Associated Press reported that officials said an April 2019 attack on an American convoy that killed three Marines in Afghanistan is under investigation.
The White House on Monday insisted there is "no consensus" that the intelligence that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops is accurate, which is why, it said, the issue was never flagged to President Trump or Vice President Pence.
Gang of Eight briefed by intelligence chiefs on Russia bounty allegations
The country's top intelligence officials on Thursday held a classified briefing with congressional leaders amid demands for more information on the reports that Russian agents offered Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan thousands of dollars in bounties for killing American troops. © Provided by FOX News Top intelligence officials, including CIA chief Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, held the briefing Thursday afternoon with members of the so-called “Gang of Eight”: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Still, a former senior national security official in the Trump administration told Fox News that intelligence reports are provided to Trump "all the time" even when there is not consensus among the intelligence agencies.
Meanwhile, O’Brien on Wednesday said that due to the leak of the information, “it may now become impossible to ever get to the bottom of it.”
“We were working very hard on this matter,” O’Brien said. “It may be entirely impossible to get to the bottom of it because someone decided to leak to hurt the president rather than uphold their obligations to the American people.”
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.
Video: White House blames 'irresponsible, anonymous leakers' for endangering US troops in Afghanistan (FOX News)
Top Pentagon officials say Russian bounty program not corroborated .
Defense secretary says Russian bounty program was taken seriously but not corroborated by intelligence agencies. "All the defense intelligence agencies have been unable to corroborate that report," Esper told the House Armed Services Committee.