One of the top Republican lawmakers in the House joined a growing list of lawmakers on Sunday asking the Trump administration to explain what he knew about reports that Russian intelligence agents offered to pay rewards to Afghan militants who killed the troops. Americans in the country.
House Republican Conference Speaker Liz Cheney of Wyoming tweeted Sunday morning that if the reports in the New York Times about the rewards were true, then the White House needed to explain what it knew about the intelligence and how it responded.
A senior official told CBS News that the allegations of rewards did not appear in the President’s Daily Brief, a regular summary of the national security problems turned over to the president and some cabinet secretaries. The National Security Council has been conducting “due diligence” but has not found the intelligence assessment as described in existing reports, the official said.
Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, specifically focused on denials from both Trump and White House staff that neither President nor Vice President Pence were informed of the matter and asked for more information on why this is the case.
“If the information about Russian rewards on US forces is true, the White House must explain: 1. Why was the President or Vice President not informed?” Cheney tweeted. “Was the information in the PDB? 2. Who knew and when? 3. What has been done in response to protect our forces and hold Putin accountable?”
The New York Times first reported over the weekend that US intelligence officials determined that a Russian military unit secretly offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces, including the attack on the American troops. The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post also reported on the Kremlin’s efforts to mount attacks on Western troops.
The Times reported that President Trump and the White House National Security Council were briefed on Russia’s bounty rewards in late March. They discussed an appropriate response, which ranged from filing a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and economic sanctions, but the White House had yet to authorize a response.
RUSSIAN SPY UNIT PAID TALIBAN FOR ATTACK ON UNITED STATES TROOPS, SAYS US INTELLIGENCE
Lawmakers on both sides of the political divide have asked the Trump administration to explain what it knew about the rewards.
Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., said it is “imperative” to get answers and urged the Trump administration to tell Congress what it knows about Russia’s efforts to pay rewards for killing US soldiers.
“I hope that the Trump Administration will take these allegations seriously and report to Congress immediately on the reliability of these news reports,” Graham, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted.
Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, questioned how Trump could maintain a friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, even by welcoming him to a G-7 Summit in the United States, while his regime allegedly attempted to kill Americans.
“President Trump was approaching Putin and inviting him to the G7, while his administration allegedly knew that Russia was trying to kill US troops in Afghanistan and derail peace talks with the Taliban,” Kaine, the Democratic candidate for Twitter, tweeted. the 2016 vice presidency.
However, the White House said Saturday that Trump was not informed of Russia’s alleged reward intelligence, but did not confirm or deny the underlying information that Russia was giving rewards for attacking US soldiers.
Trump added on Sunday his own denial of being informed, saying in a tweet that neither he nor Pence nor the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows had been notified of the rewards, and questioned the veracity and origin of the article. New York Times.
“No one informed me or told me, @VP Pence, or the Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by the Russians, as reported through an” anonymous source “by Fake News @nytimes “Trump tweeted.
He added: “It is probably another fake Times job, like his failed Russia Hoax. Who is your ‘source’?
The reports quickly became fodder for the 2020 presidential campaign.
During a Saturday in town hall, former Vice President Joe Biden mentioned the “shocking revelation” that Trump reportedly knew about rewards for months and criticized the president for doing “something worse than nothing.”
“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,” said Biden, the alleged Democratic presidential candidate for president. . “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. His entire presidency has been a gift to Putin. “
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On Sunday morning, Trump shot Biden, reiterating his position that Russia took advantage of him and Obama during the previous administration.
“It is fun to see the corrupt Joe Biden reading a statement about Russia, which was obviously written by his handlers,” Trump tweeted. “Russia ate her lunch and Obama’s during his time in office, so much so that Obama wanted them out of the then G8. The United States was weak in everything, but especially in Russia!”
The Lincoln Project, a Republican super-PAC that is very critical of Trump, also targeted the President’s denial.
“This heinous failure of the commander-in-chief to protect American soldiers in the field is unthinkable,” Reed Galen, co-founder of the anti-Trump group, said in a statement. “There are no words to describe Donald Trump’s breach of duty as Commander in Chief.”
“Congress should charge him for this crime,” added co-founder Mike Madrid. “Unfortunately, your facilitators in the United States Senate, beginning with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will ignore this war crime as if it had everything else.”
Marisa Schultz of Fox News contributed to this report.