New evidence shows Trump knew about Russia paying to have US troops killed
New evidence has emerged that Donald Trump knew that Russian President Vladimir Putin had put bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan, knocking down the White House's insistence that Trump was never briefed.
While multiple outlets had reported that Trump was briefed, the New York Times reported new details late Monday night that the intelligence was included in the president's daily brief — a document with regular updates on the most sensitive American intelligence.
Trump denied he was briefed, and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany doubled down, telling reporters that Trump had never heard about the bounties, which the intelligence community believes led to the death of three marines in a bombing in Afghanistan in April 2019.
"He was not personally briefed on the matter," McEnany said on Monday, after she was specifically asked about whether Trump had been given the intelligence in a written briefing. "That is all I can share with you today."
Multiple reports throughout Trump's tenure have said that Trump rarely reads the daily brief and even ignores verbal briefings, preferring instead to get his intelligence from Fox News.
For example, Trump reportedly didn't read the dire coronavirus warnings in his briefs in January and February.
The Russian bounties story has caused an uproar on Capitol Hill, with Democrats blasting Trump for ignoring a foreign attack on American service members.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a veteran who lost both of her legs while serving in the Iraq War, said in a speech on the Senate floor on Monday that Trump's "ignorance isn't exculpatory."
"'I didn't know that our adversary was helping kill American troops because no one told me' isn't an excuse for the Commander in Chief of the greatest military on earth," Duckworth said. "It's a confession of incompetence."
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said he reviewed the raw intelligence and found that it's "not a hoax" — a response to Trump's claim from Sunday that the intelligence community didn't find the bounty story credible and thus didn't report it to him.
"If you continue ignoring the facts, more soldiers and marines are going to die," Murphy tweeted.
On Monday, after the story had been circulating all weekend, the White House briefed only a small group of House Republicans known for defending Trump — leading to yet more accusations that the administration is politicizing national intelligence.
"How are Members of Congress supposed to 'earn the whole story' when a White House famous for lying and stonewalling Congress denies the report entirely and then holds a briefing to get 'the facts' out and only invites Republicans to it?" Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) tweeted.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. Attribution: Emily Singer.