White House was warned about potential Russian bounties for killing US troops in early 2019

Trump administration finalizing plan to withdraw 4,000 troops from Afghanistan


The revelation comes after the White House repeatedly denied Trump had been “personally briefed” on comparable intelligence this yr, claiming the evaluation “wasn’t verified.”

But a US official accustomed to the newest data instructed Source on Monday that intelligence in regards to the Russian bounties was included within the President’s Daily Briefing (PDB) someday within the spring of this yr. The written doc consists of the intelligence communities’ most necessary and pressing data.

Now Source has discovered that the menace was talked about in intelligence studies supplied to the National Security Council greater than a yr in the past.

At that point, it was not clear which Russian-linked group or entity was making the supply, if the Taliban had accepted or whether or not the bounties have been linked to any assaults on US troops, the supply stated.

But it did present a sign that intelligence officers have been already conscious of Russia’s effort to not directly goal US and coalition troops in Afghanistan, one in all a number of menace streams that have been being monitored as tensions between the 2 international locations escalated over the poisoning of Sergi Skripal, an ex-spy within the United Kingdom, the supply stated.

The information additional undermines the White House’s assertion that Trump was not “briefed” on the matter and can seemingly improve the stress coming from lawmakers on each side of the aisle who’re already calling on senior administration officers to testify about what they knew, and when.

The studies have been handed to prime officers on the National Security Council, together with former nationwide safety adviser John Bolton, who would have in the end determined whether or not or to not transient the President on the matter, the supply stated, including that they didn’t know whether or not he had chosen to take action.

But Bolton was conscious of the studies, in keeping with this supply. Multiple sources have instructed Source that Bolton is a veracious shopper of intelligence.

The NSC was not made conscious of further intelligence associated to the Russian bounties within the later months of 2019, in keeping with a former senior NSC official. The hole signifies there was a time frame when there was not any new intelligence on the matter deemed important sufficient for the NSC and Trump to be made conscious.

New intelligence emerged in early 2020

However, the scenario modified in early 2020 when new intelligence emerged, detailing how the Russian actors providing the bounties have been officers from the Russian intelligence unit, the GRU. That data was included in Trump’s PDB.

“Intelligence comes to the NSC in several ways, the PDB is just one of them,” in keeping with Source nationwide safety analyst Sam Vinograd, who served on the NSC throughout the Obama administration.

The President receives a duplicate of the PDB each day, as does Vice President Mike Pence, however Trump is infamous for not studying it. Even after intelligence analysts added further pictures and charts to make it extra interesting, the doc typically goes unread, in keeping with individuals accustomed to the matter.

“The intel directorate is involved in flagging key threat streams to the national security adviser, as are other relevant directorates,” Vinograd stated.

The nationwide safety adviser is each a filter for intelligence his crew receives and a gatekeeper in the case of intelligence attending to the president from different members of the nationwide safety crew, Vinograd added, noting that they’re in the end liable for making certain the president is aware of what he must know.

A Pentagon spokesman declined to touch upon whether or not the White House had obtained intelligence in regards to the potential Russian bounties in early 2019.

The NSC and a spokesperson for Bolton didn’t reply to Source’s request for remark.

On Monday night time, The New York Times reported that the knowledge had been included in a written briefing to the President in late February.

The Associated Press was first to report on the existence of this intelligence in 2019. The AP additionally reported that the Russian bounty menace was in Trump’s PBD in 2019 and that Bolton had briefed Trump on it in March of 2019.

“I responded no comment and that is what I will do with you,” Bolton stated this morning throughout an interview on WCBS 880 when requested in regards to the AP report. Bolton cited the truth that he didn’t need to reveal labeled data.

“I do not want to get into the specifics,” Bolton stated when requested if the menace was identified within the highest circles of nationwide safety in Washington. He added that the issue is Trump’s coverage on condition that the Taliban haven’t saved an settlement with the US in 20 years.

On the substance of the problem “the Russians have wanted us out of Afghanistan for a long time,” Bolton stated.

The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Monday known as the studies of Russian intelligence officers providing cash to Taliban militants in Afghanistan as a reward for killing US or UK troops “a hoax” and “a lie,” within the Kremlin’s first statements following the rising furor in Washington over the matter.

“First of all, these assertions are a lie. Secondly, if the US special services still report to the President, then I suggest [you] proceed from the corresponding statements of President Trump, who has already given his assessment to these reports,” Peskov stated in a convention name with reporters when requested to touch upon the studies.

Congress desires solutions

GOP lawmakers who have been briefed on the intelligence Monday on the White House have been instructed that the intelligence in query was from this yr, in keeping with a congressional aide, who additionally made clear that members had not independently verified that declare and it was merely what the administration had instructed them.

A bunch of House Democrats have been briefed on Afghanistan intelligence on Tuesday however Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland stated administration officers didn’t present any new data, saying it was basically “White House personnel telling us their perspective.”

“We did not receive any new substantive information,” Hoyer stated throughout a information convention after the briefing. He added that he would have most well-liked the briefing be delivered by intelligence officers.

He stated the intelligence is “very, very troubling” and pushed again on the suggestion made by each Trump and Peskov that it’s a hoax.

“Nothing in this briefing that we’ve just received led me to believe it is a hoax,” Hoyer stated. “There may be different judgments as to the level of credibility, but there’s no assertion that the information we had was a hoax.”

He reiterated Democratic leaders’ name for a full briefing for members of Congress from the intelligence group to debate their evaluation of the veracity of the intelligence.

Meanwhile, Democrats in each the House and Senate have made clear they intend to push the administration for solutions associated to which officers had information of the intelligence and after they turned conscious of it.

Top Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees despatched a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday requesting solutions about their information of the intelligence, in keeping with a duplicate of the correspondence obtained by Source.

The letter, co-signed by Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Dick Durbin of Illinois, additionally asks Esper and Pompeo to elucidate why a number of choices made by Trump within the time for the reason that data was included in his every day briefing “clearly support the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin, while putting US service members at unnecessary risk.”

It additionally features a request for members of Trump’s Cabinet to seem earlier than the Senate in coming days to make clear their information of the reported Russian bounties and reply questions in regards to the “resulting measures” undertaken by State Department and Department of Defense in gentle of this intelligence.

Source’s Kylie Atwood and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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