WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House denied on Saturday that President Donald Trump had been informed of US intelligence that the Russian military offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants for killing US troops in Afghanistan, and the Democratic rival Joe Biden criticized Trump for not taking action. against Moscow
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that “neither the president nor the vice president (Mike Pence) were informed of the alleged Russian generosity intelligence.” The statement, McEnany said, did not address the “merit of alleged intelligence” reported on Friday by the New York Times.
A Russian military intelligence unit linked to assassination attempts in Europe offered rewards for successful attacks last year against US and coalition troops, the Times reported. The newspaper reported that Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, were believed to have raised reward money.
Trump was briefed on intelligence, but had not authorized measures to retaliate, the Times reported.
Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate who will challenge Trump in the Nov. 3 election, said during a virtual town hall on Saturday that the Times report, if true, represents a “truly shocking revelation,” noting in particular the reported flaw of Trump to retaliate.
“Not only has he failed to sanction or impose any consequences in Russia for this heinous violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his shameful campaign of deference and degradation to Vladimir Putin,” Biden said, referring to the Russian president.
Biden promised retaliation if he becomes president.
“If I am elected president, make no mistake, Vladimir Putin will face and we will impose serious costs on Russia,” Biden said.
Reports by Steve Holland and Diane Bartz; Editing by Will Dunham