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Politics Intel officials brief congressional leaders on reported Russian bounty on US troops

19:07  02 july  2020
19:07  02 july  2020 Source:   abcnews.go.com

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.

CIA Director Gina Haspel led a slate of intelligence officials to the U.S. Capitol Thursday to brief a select group of lawmakers on reports Russia offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan.

Nancy Pelosi wearing a blue shirt: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 26, 2020. © Carolyn Kaster/AP House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 26, 2020.

While the White House claims intelligence about the bounty reports was not fully verified by the U.S., a military official confirmed to ABC News on Sunday that Russian intelligence officers offered to pay Taliban militants to kill American troops in Afghanistan over the past year, amid peace talks to end the 18-year war there.

Trump was reportedly briefed on possible Russian bounties on US troops on February 27 — the same day he had a 45-minute meeting with producers behind a dramatized play about ex-FBI members Peter Strzok and Lisa Page

  Trump was reportedly briefed on possible Russian bounties on US troops on February 27 — the same day he had a 45-minute meeting with producers behind a dramatized play about ex-FBI members Peter Strzok and Lisa Page Trump denied being briefed, claiming US intel "did not find this info credible" and did not report the situation to him or Vice President Mike Pence. However, three NATO officials told Business Insider that they were briefed on the situation and the investigation into the suspected plot.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.President Donald Trump was reportedly briefed on potential Russian bounty on US troops in Afghanistan on February 27 — the same day he had a prolonged meeting with the producers behind a dramatized play about ex-FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

President Donald Trump has continued to call news reports about the bounties a "hoax."

MORE: Russians offered Taliban bounties to kill US troops: Military official

U.S. intelligence agencies linked the effort to a Russian intelligence unit suspected of covert action and assassination attempts in Europe, according to The New York Times, which first reported the intelligence findings said to have been presented to Trump in March.

The president and vice president have both denied that they were briefed on the matter.

MORE: Trump still not briefed on reports Russia put bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan: WH

Last year, 23 U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan, but whether any were targeted by Taliban fighters paid by Russian operatives isn't known, the military official told ABC News. The official didn't know whether Trump was briefed but said other senior U.S. officials learned of the Russian operation "months ago."

Trump calls Russia bounty reports 'hoax' even as White House briefs intel on it

  Trump calls Russia bounty reports 'hoax' even as White House briefs intel on it President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, said the U.S. had shared the information with other countries. "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 Wednesday, going after The New York Times, which first reported on the intelligence on Friday and also reported that Trump had been briefed on it. "The secret source probably does not even exist, just like the story itself. If the discredited @nytimes has a source, reveal it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 26, 2020. © Carolyn Kaster/AP House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 26, 2020.

Members of the so-called “Gang of Eight” were expected to attend Thursday's briefing. The exclusive group is comprised of the legislative branch’s highest ranking members and top intelligence leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

As she arrived for the closed-door briefing, Pelosi told reporters that she hoped to obtain "the truth" while McCarthy said that there's "a lot" for lawmakers to learn about the reports.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and General Paul M. Nakasone, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command, were expected to join Haspel for the briefing, according to a source familiar with plan.

National security adviser says Trump’s CIA briefer decided not to share Russia bounty intel

  National security adviser says Trump’s CIA briefer decided not to share Russia bounty intel 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 referencing Russia allegedly offering bounties to Afghan militants for killing U.S. soldiers. © Provided by FOX News National Security Adviser Amb. Robert O'Brien joins 'Fox & Friends' to explain how the White House handled intelligence on alleged Russian bounties on U.S. troops. O’Brien, during an interview with “Fox & Friends,” was asked about the bombshell New York Times report that said Trump was briefed on the bounties and that he did nothing about it.

Several lawmakers from both parties attended briefings earlier this week at the White House, although Pelosi and Schumer have continued to press the administration to conduct briefings for the entire congressional membership.

MORE: Dems say Russia bounty intel is 'red flag' that Trump-Putin relationship could be compromised

Democrats characterized the White House briefing Tuesday as inadequate, calling on the administration to provide “direct evidence and discussion from intelligence community into how credible they assess the information.” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called the intelligence a “red flag” and said the American people must understand whether the United States’ relationship with Russia is “compromised by the relationship between the president and Mr. Putin.”

ABC News’ James Meek and Luis Martinez contributed to this report

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.

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