AP: White House Was Aware Of Russian Bounties In Early 2019
The Associated Press reported on Monday that top White House officials were aware early last year of classified intelligence indicating Russia was offering secret bounties to the Taliban for killing Americans.
- This development, provided to the AP by U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence, means the White House knew about the alleged bounties a full year earlier than previous reports indicated.
- Officials said the intelligence “was included in at least one of President Donald Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time,” and that “Then-national security adviser John Bolton also told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.”
- According to the report, the White House claims that “Trump was not — and still has not been — briefed on the intelligence assessments because they have not been fully verified.”
- However, the AP noted that “it is rare for intelligence to be confirmed without a shadow of a doubt before it is presented to top officials.”
- Further eroding trust in the White House’s claims is a Sunday report “that concerns about Russian bounties were also included in a second written presidential daily briefing earlier this year and that current national security adviser Robert O’Brien had discussed the matter with Trump” — though O’Brien denied having done so.
- The AP reported that officials familiar with Bolton’s alleged briefing for Trump said it contained no “actionable intelligence,” which the report said “means the intelligence community did not have enough information to form a strategic plan or response.”
Concerns over possible bounties for American deaths were renewed earlier this year after “raided a Taliban outpost and recovered roughly $500,000 in U.S. currency,” bolstering “the suspicions of the American intelligence community that the Russians had offered money to Taliban militants and other linked associations.”
According to the AP, the White House claims Trump was also unaware of this latest development.
The officials told the AP that career government officials developed potential options for the White House to respond to the Russian aggression in Afghanistan, which was first reported by The New York Times. However, the Trump administration has yet to authorize any action.