Biden criticizes Trump for reporting that Russia offered rewards for US soldiers

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden leaves after speaking about reopening the country during a speech in Darby, Pennsylvania, on June 17, 2020.

Jim Watson | AFP | fake pictures

Joe Biden has accused Donald Trump of betraying his duty as president, after a report claimed that the White House knew for months that Russian intelligence offered rewards from Afghan militants for killing US soldiers, but did not punish Moscow.

“His entire presidency has been a gift to Putin, but this is beyond pale,” Biden said during a virtual town hall on Saturday. “It is the betrayal of the most sacred duty we have as a nation to protect and equip our troops when we send them in danger. It is a betrayal of every American family with a loved one serving in Afghanistan or anywhere abroad.”

The New York Times reported on Friday that the United States determined a few months ago that a Russian military intelligence unit offered rewards from Taliban-linked militants for killing US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Trump received intelligence and the White House National Security Council discussed the findings at a meeting in late March, according to the Times, which quoted informed officials on the matter. Officials developed options from a diplomatic complaint to sanctions, but the White House has yet to authorize a response, the Times reported, citing officials.

The White House denied on Saturday that Trump or Vice President Mike President were briefed on the matter, but did not question the validity of the intelligence as described in the New York Times report.

“The United States receives thousands of intelligence reports a day and is subject to strict scrutiny,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. “While the White House does not routinely comment on alleged intelligence or internal deliberations, the CIA Director, National Security Adviser, and Chief of Staff can confirm that neither the President nor the Vice President was informed of the alleged reward intelligence. Russian. “

“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,” he added.

The Trump government reached an agreement with the Taliban in February to reduce its troop presence and established a ceasefire, with the goal of withdrawing entirely from Afghanistan in 14 months.

Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, criticized Trump for inviting Russia to join a summit meeting of seven world powers, known as the G-7, in Washington this September after he was allegedly informed of the plot. to kill American soldiers. Russia was expelled from the group in 2014 after Crimea annexed from Ukraine.

“President Trump, the commander-in-chief of the US troops serving in a dangerous war scenario, has known this for months according to the Times and has made it worse than nothing,” Biden said.

“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,” Biden continued. “He has had this information according to the Times, and yet he offered to host Putin in the United States and sought to invite Russia to join the G7.”

The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, said he immediately contacted the Trump administration after reading the New York Times report and that he “will speak to them in the very near future.”

“If necessary, the Administration must take swift and serious steps to hold the Putin regime accountable,” McCaul said. The Texas congressman said the report deepens his concerns about “malicious behavior by the Russian government worldwide.”

“Since the invasion of Ukraine, propping up dictators across the world and interfering in the American and European elections, the Putin regime has proven time and time again that it cannot be trusted and is not our friend,” McCaul said.

Biden said he took the report personally as the father of a soldier who served in a war zone. His son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, was deployed to Iraq in 2008 with the Army National Guard.

“But I don’t just think of this as a presidential candidate. I think of this as a father, a father who sent his son to serve in danger for a year in the Middle East and Iraq, and I am disgusted on behalf of those families whose loved ones are serving today, “said Biden.