- Russia awarded a reward to the leaders of US troops in Afghanistan, and Trump decided not to act after receiving information on the matter, according to a report published Friday by The New York Times.
- The White House rejected the story Saturday, claiming that “neither the president nor the vice president was informed of the alleged Russian reward intelligence.”
- But questions from former national security officials say that if this is true, it exposes major flaws in the Trump administration’s national security apparatus and wants to know why the president would have been kept in the dark.
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After an explosive report claimed that a Russian military intelligence unit in Afghanistan offered a reward to Taliban-linked militias for killing US and coalition soldiers, the questions critics want answers are “what did the President know” and “why didn’t he?” Act?’
In a statement Saturday night, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that neither President Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence had been briefed on intelligence.
The New York Times story on Friday claimed that the president had been briefed on the matter in March, but decided not to act.
“The CIA Director, National Security Adviser, and Chief of Staff can confirm that neither the President nor the Vice President were informed of the alleged Russian reward intelligence … The United States receives thousands of intelligence reports per day, and they are subject to strict scrutiny, “McEnany said in a statement.
But former national security officials question the plausibility of the denial and say that, even if true, it exposes major flaws in the Trump administration.
David Priess, a CIA agent during the presidency of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, delivered the President’s Daily Briefing to senior intelligence officials after 9/11.
The briefing is a daily summary of emerging threats and plots to the national security of the United States around the world.
In a thread on Twitter, he exposed the various possibilities, noting that the White House was not contesting the truth of intelligence. He concluded that if the President was not aware of it, it constituted a failure of the national intelligence community. If he had, it represented a serious failure on the part of the President himself.
—Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) June 28, 2020
“Perhaps the assessment was reported only below POTUS because it was deemed not worth their attention. (This would disagree with reporting at this time by the same NYT trio, which was, in fact, in the President’s Daily Report. If so, shame on the system, “he wrote.
—David Priess (@DavidPriess) June 28, 2020
“Perhaps POTUS was, in fact, informed orally about it, but White House officials have decided to lie about it, perhaps in a feeble attempt to avoid the next logical question: why hasn’t the commander in chief responded to such a serious development? “If so, shame about them. And from him. “
Several Obama administration officials also expressed alarm.
Susan Rice, national security adviser to President Barack Obama, said that even if the denial were true and intelligence never reached the president, it would be a sign of the Trump administration’s incompetence.
“I don’t believe this for a minute, but if it were true, it means that Trump doesn’t even pretend to be the commander-in-chief. And no one around him has the guts to ask him to. More evidence of his incompetent death,” he wrote, after denial of the White House.
His aide at the time, Ben Rhodes, wrote: “In addition to being almost certainly a lie, the thought of Trump not being informed that Russia rewards American troops is even crazier than him and doing nothing.”
Asha Rangappa, a former CIA agent who works as an analyst for CNN, asked why John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence, had not been fired if it was true that the President had not been informed of the threat to the lives of the forces. Americans An international adversary.
—Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) June 28, 2020
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on criticism of its statement on Saturday.
The report has again raised questions about Trump’s relationship with Russia, which has haunted him throughout his presidency.
As recently as May, roughly two months after sources told the Times that he had been briefed on the Russian plot, Trump was calling for Russia to rejoin the G7, a meeting of the world’s leading economies from which Russia was excluded after the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
On Saturday, Trump’s rival for the presidency, Democrat Joe Biden, accused Trump of betraying his duty as president.
“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 a betrayal of the most sacred duty we have as a nation to protect and equip our troops when we send them in distress. It is a betrayal of every American family with a loved one serving in Afghanistan or anywhere abroad.”