Politics & Policy

Trump Denies Russia-Taliban Bounty Reports: ‘Possibly Another Fabricated Russia Hoax’

President Donald Trump delivers a speech following a tour of Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis., June 25, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

President Trump responded Sunday night to multiple reports that Russia had paid Taliban fighters to kill American troops in Afghanistan, writing on Twitter that U.S. intelligence “did not find this info credible” and that he was never briefed on the matter.

“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!” Trump tweeted Sunday night.

The New York Times, which broke the story citing anonymous officials, said the intelligence “was briefed” to Trump and discussed by the National Security Council in March, but a formal response was never announced.

According to the reports, U.S. officials have focused on an April 2019 attack that killed three U.S. Marines after a car rigged with explosives detonated near an armored convoy that was returning to Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military installation in Afghanistan. Further evidence came from “interrogations of captured Afghan militants and criminals,” as well as a raid of a Taliban outpost that was conducted earlier this year by SEAL Team Six and recovered roughly $500,000 in American dollars.

Both the Russians and the Taliban denied the allegations. The Associated Press reported that the Trump administration was going to brief select members of Congress on the matter Monday.

Trump’s account was bolstered by CBS News’s Catherine Herridge, who reported that a senior official told her “the GRU/Taliban bounty allegations were not contained in the President’s Daily Brief (PDB).”

“The official confirmed the NSC has been doing ‘due diligence,’ and going back through their files since the story broke Friday, and they have not found the ‘intelligence assessment’ described in media reporting,” Herridge tweeted. “The official said the review is ongoing, but given current talks with the Taliban, intel about a GRU operation involving the Taliban, targeting US forces would have risen to the level of inclusion in the PDB.”

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