Trump Says He Never Mentioned Bounties To Putin Because It’s ‘Fake News’
President Donald Trump has said he didn’t ask Vladimir Putin whether Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill US troops because he thinks it was ‘fake news’.
The POTUS spoke with the Russian president on the phone last Thursday, July 23, after it emerged that US intelligence officials from the CIA had concluded a Russian military intelligence unit paid out for each US or British soldier killed.
The White House, however, said there was a lack of consensus in the intelligence community about the findings, with the National Security Agency reportedly disagreeing with the CIA’s conclusion.
See Trump discuss the phone call here:
According to a European intelligence official cited by CNN, Russian intelligence officers from the GRU, a military intelligence unit, offered money to Taliban militants in Afghanistan as a reward if they killed US or British troops there.
The intelligence that assessed the bounty is said to have been included in one of the president’s daily briefings at some point this spring, though Trump is known to not fully or regularly read the President’s Daily Brief.
The POTUS is apparently instead briefed orally two or three times a week by his intelligence officials, though the White House has said he was not briefed about the findings in an oral session.
In an interview with Axios released on Wednesday, Trump said that he chosen not to broach the subject of the bounties during his recent phone call with Putin, though he said he’d have ‘no problem’ doing so.
I have never discussed it with Putin. I would, I have no problem with it.
No, that was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly, that’s an issue that many people said was fake news.
It’s unclear exactly who dubbed it ‘fake news’, but Trump added that it was ‘a lot of people’ and pointed to ‘folks from the Bush administration’.
Trump claimed the bounty intelligence ‘never reached [his] desk’, and said that if it had he ‘would’ve done something about it’.
He went on to say that he would be ‘very angry’ if the intelligence were true, adding: ‘I don’t know why they’d be doing it, but if you tell me they’re doing it, I would certainly take that under consideration.’
Joe Biden’s campaign condemned Trump’s decision not to discuss the bounties with Putin, with spokesperson Andrew Bates pointing out that ‘the most critical and sacred obligation of a commander-in-chief is to protect those who serve our nation in harm’s way’.
But months after the US intelligence community sounded the alarm – to Donald Trump and to our allies – that Russia was placing bounties on the heads of American servicemen and women in a warzone, our president continues to turn his back on those who put their lives on the line for our country, and on his own duty.
The POTUS continued to downplay the validity of the US intelligence during the interview, and drew a moral equivalency between the possibility that Russia backed efforts to kill US troops and the American campaign to aid anti-Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
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