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Sources: White House aware of Russian bounties in 2019

Sources: White House aware of Russian bounties in 2019
Posted at 8:05 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 23:05:11-04

Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported.

That's according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence. The assessment was included in at least one of President Donald Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to the officials.

Then-National Security Adviser John Bolton also told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.

On Saturday, the Director of National Intelligence denied that Trump had been briefed on the intelligence.

"I have confirmed that neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence alleged by the New York Times in its reporting yesterday," DNI Director John Ratcliffe said.

On Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany suggested that the intelligence community had not come to a conclusion on the information.

"There was not a consensus among the intelligence community," McEnany said earlier on Monday. "And, in fact, there were dissenting opinions within the intelligence community, and it would not be elevated to the President until it was verified."

Also on Monday, eight Republican lawmakers attended a White House briefing about explosive allegations that Russia secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing American troops in Afghanistan.

Members of Congress in both parties are calling for additional information and consequences for Russia. Republicans who were in Monday's briefing are expressing alarm about Russia’s activities in Afghanistan and urging the administration to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable.

Eight Democrats are to be briefed Tuesday morning.