President Donald Trump denied a New York Times report claiming that Russia offered Afghan militants bounties to kill US troops despite mounting intelligence.
The Times reported that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered financial bounties to militants to kill western coalition troops during peace talks in Afghanistan. Numerous other outlets independently corroborated the report.
All of the reports said that Trump was briefed on the issue.
Trump on Sunday claimed that he was not briefed on the matter because the intelligence was found to be not “credible.”
But the intelligence is said to have been shared with Congressional leaders and the British government, NBC News reported.
US intelligence is also investigating whether the bounties were linked to the killing of three Marines in Afghanistan last year.
Republicans call for more info:
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said that he expects the Trump administration to "to take such allegations seriously and inform Congress immediately as to the reliability of these news reports."
"Imperative Congress get to the bottom" of the Russian offer "to pay the Taliban to kill American soldiers with the goal of pushing America out of the region,” he added.
Rep. Liz Cheney said, if the report is true, the White House must explain "why weren't the president or vice president briefed" and "what has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable."
The White House is expected to brief some lawmakers on the issue on Monday.
Democrats say Trump betrayed US:
"This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score, denies being briefed," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told ABC News’ “This Week.” "But he wants to ignore, he wants to bring them back to the G-8 despite the annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine, despite what they yielded to [Putin] in Syria, despite [Russian President Vladimir Putin's] intervention into our election, which is well documented by our intelligence community, and despite now possibly this allegation, which we should have been briefed on."
"His entire presidency has been a gift to Putin, but this is beyond the pale," said Joe Biden. "It's betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation to protect and equip our troops when we send them into harm's way. It's a betrayal of every single American family with a loved one serving in Afghanistan or anywhere overseas."