GOP lawmaker briefed on Russian-Taliban bounty program accuses NYT of disrupting ongoing investigation

Chuck Ross, DCNF

A Republican lawmaker who attended a White House briefing Monday on intelligence related to an alleged Russia’s bounty program targeting American troops in Afghanistan accused The New York Times of publishing “unconfirmed” intelligence and derailing an ongoing investigation into the attacks.

“Having served in Afghanistan during the time the alleged bounties were placed, no one is angrier about this than me,” tweeted Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, who served in the U.S. Navy Reserve in Afghanistan in 2014 and 2015.

Image: Rep. Jim Banks, screenshot

“Now it’s impossible to finish the investigation. All b/c the @nytimes will do anything to damage @realdonaldtrump, even if it means compromising nat’l security,” Banks also tweeted. “The blood is on their hands.”

Banks was one of a group of Republican lawmakers briefed by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and intelligence officials regarding a Times report from Friday that a Russian military intelligence unit was paying Taliban fighters to attack U.S. and Western service members in Afghanistan.

The Times also reported that President Donald Trump had been briefed on the intelligence in late March but failed to retaliate against the Russian government.

Trump and other White House officials vehemently denied that he was briefed on the intelligence. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a press briefing on Monday that Trump was not briefed on the information because it was not verified.

Banks provided the most detail on the record so far about the nature of the intelligence.

Other reports over the weekend and on Monday provided additional detail about the intelligence regarding the bounty program.

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that U.S. intelligence officials believe that several U.S. service members were killed in the attacks. The Times reported in a follow-up story on Sunday that U.S. intelligence officers and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan warned intelligence officials in January that captured Taliban fighters revealed details of the bounty program.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on CIA Director Gina Haspel and John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, to brief all members of Congress about the alleged bounty program. Pelosi said she wanted to know whether Trump was briefed on the intelligence.

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