Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden attacked President Donald Trump over a report that he said, if true, contains a “truly shocking revelation” about the commander-in-chief and his inability to protect US troops in Afghanistan and confront Russia.
The New York Times reported on Friday that US intelligence officials concluded months ago that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered rewards to Taliban-linked armed fighters for killing US troops in Afghanistan.
The report says the Russians offered rewards for successful attacks last year, at a time when the United States and the Taliban were in talks to end the long-running war.
The report was also confirmed by The Washington Post.
“The truly shocking revelation that if the Times report is true, and I emphasize it again, is that President Trump, the commander-in-chief of US troops serving in a dangerous war scenario, has known this for months, according to the Times, and it did worse than nothing, “Biden, the alleged Democratic candidate, said during a virtual town hall.
Biden, a former vice president for eight years, 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.
The White House said neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence were informed of such intelligence.
“This does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story that erroneously suggests that President Trump was informed on this matter,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
Russia called the report “nonsense.”
“This unsophisticated plant clearly illustrates the low intellectual capacities of the American intelligence propagandists, who instead of inventing something more plausible have to invent this nonsense,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The Times quoted a Taliban spokesman as denying that his fighters have an agreement with the Russian intelligence agency.
The newspaper, citing anonymous officials familiar with intelligence, said the findings were presented to Trump and discussed by his National Security Council in late March.
Officials developed possible responses, starting with a diplomatic complaint to Russia, but the White House has yet to authorize any steps, according to the report.
Biden criticized Trump for his lack of informed action.
“Not only has he not sanctioned or imposed 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,” said the former vice president.
Biden called it “treason to the most sacred duty we have as a nation: to protect and equip our troops when we send them in danger.”
He said that Americans who serve in the military risk their lives. “But they will never, never, never face a threat like this with their commander in chief turning a blind eye to a foreign power putting a reward on their heads,” he said.