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President Donald Trump pushed back on reports of a possibly “fabricated Russia Hoax” which he said he was not briefed on.
In a tweet on Sunday, the president explained that the intelligence community informed him that he was not briefed on the allegations about Russia paying members of Afghanistan’s Taliban to kill U.S. troops because they had not found the reports to be “credible.”
Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!! https://t.co/cowOmP7T1S
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2020
“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!”, Trump tweeted late Sunday night.
The message was apparently a response to a tweet from Sen. Lindsey Graham on the issue and reiterated the president’s denial earlier in the day of a New York Times report last week which claimed that Taliban fighters received bounty payments from Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, in order to target and kill American soldiers.
Graham had tweeted that it was “Imperative Congress get to the bottom of recent media reports.”
I expect the Trump Administration to take such allegations seriously and inform Congress immediately as to the reliability of these news reports.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) June 27, 2020
The New York Times report claimed that intelligence officials had investigated Russia’s actions against U.S. troops in Afghanistan and had briefed Trump back in March. The President’s Daily Brief also allegedly included the information and, at the time, a meeting was held by the White House National Security Council to discuss the findings, the report, citing unnamed officials, claimed.
The bounties are “believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members,” The Washington Post concluded, apparently basing that assessment on interviews conducted with captured militants.
Rep. Liz Cheney jumped in on Sunday morning to demand the White House “explain” why Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were not briefed and “who did know and when?”
“What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?” the Wyoming Republican tweeted.
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 PDB?
2. Who did know and when?
3. What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) June 28, 2020
Criticism continued to swirl on social media as those ready to blame the president for his inaction pressed the narrative that he knew about the intelligence but failed to hold Russia accountable.
“Not only has he failed to sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law — Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin,” presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said during a virtual town hall.
Trump fired back at his remarks in another tweet saying the statement was “obviously written by his handlers.”
Funny to see Corrupt Joe Biden reading a statement on Russia, which was obviously written by his handlers. Russia ate his and Obama’s lunch during their time in office, so badly that Obama wanted them out of the then G-8. U.S. was weak on everything, but especially Russia!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2020
The White House denied that Trump had been briefed and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe also denied the reports about the president, though he did not specifically refute the allegations against Russia.
“I have confirmed that neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence alleged by the New York Times in its reporting yesterday,” Ratcliffe said in a statement Saturday. “The White House statement addressing this issue earlier today, which denied such a briefing occurred, was accurate. The New York Times reporting, and all other subsequent news reports about such an alleged briefing are inaccurate.”
Trump fired back at accusations in a series of tweets on Sunday, denying the reports.
“Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an ‘anonymous source’ by the Fake News @nytimes. Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us…..,” Trump wrote.
“Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration,” he added, calling out former President Barack Obama, Biden and his son, Hunter.”With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine – Where’s Hunter? Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their ‘source’?”
…Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine – Where’s Hunter? Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their “source”?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2020
The Times report was also slammed in a tweet as “fake news” by the Russian Embassy in Washington.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement on Saturday that “the CIA Director, the National Security Adviser, and the Chief of Staff can all confirm that neither the President nor the Vice President were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence.”
McEnany added that “this does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter.”
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