Trump Not Briefed Because Russia Bounty Reports Were Uncorroborated, Says White House

Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

McEnany added that there were still reservations within the intelligence community on the veracity of the allegations.

The intelligence reportedly arrived amid U.S. attempts to negotiate a peace deal to end the 19-year war in Afghanistan and while Mr Trump sought to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Senate Republicans are defending President Trump's handling of intelligence claiming that Russia's military intelligence units offered bounties to Taliban militants to kill US troops, arguing the evidence of bounties has not received sufficient verification.

Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he had not been briefed on intelligence assessments that Russian Federation offered bounties because there was not corroborating evidence.

The New York Times cited two unnamed officials as saying officials gave Trump a written briefing in late February laying out their conclusion that Russian Federation had paid bounties.

The comments come as the White House continues to distance President Donald Trump from the report, with the president saying intelligence officials reported they did not find the information credible and thus did not brief him on the subject.

Former Intelligence Community attorney Susan Hennessey said additional intel leaks were caused by the administration's "lies".

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday left the door open to President Vladimir Putin attending a USA summit but insisted the administration has been firm over Moscow's activities in Afghanistan.

The Trump administration held separate briefings on the issue for Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Congress.

"I was on the Intelligence Committee for a number of years, and often you would get allegations like this".

Senate Republicans who attended a separate briefing the day before also said there ought to be consequences for Russian Federation, if the reports are true, but stressed that an ongoing review should take place before any retaliatory actions are taken.

Late on Monday, the Associated Press reported that top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of the classified intelligence on the topic, and that the assessment had been included in at least one of President Trump's written daily briefings at the time.

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Tuesday criticized "rogue intelligence officers" for putting the lives of US troops in danger, while defending the decision not to brief President Donald Trump on what she described as unverified intelligence.

"The president does read", said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany during a press briefing.

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"Everything I understand the president was not briefed about this", Kinzinger said in the CNN interview.

Listing Russia as one of the "regional actors" influencing the security situation in the Central Asian nation, the report says that "as of February, the Russian government was working with the central government, regional countries, and the Taliban to gain increased influence in Afghanistan, expedite a U.S. military withdrawal, and address security challenges that might arise from a withdrawal".

GOP leaders say they do not have any immediate plans to schedule a vote on sanctions legislation, as some Democrats are demanding.

The New York Times' report, which cited anonymous sources, published on June 26, set off a fresh round of criticism of Trump, a Republican who is running for re-election, from many Democrat and some Republican lawmakers.

Their initial responses all affirmed Russia's status as a threat to the U.S. But they did not express concerns over Trump's handling of the intelligence as congressional Democrats call for answers from the administration.

The shifting statements have generated controversy among Trump's fellow Republicans as well as Democrats as he seeks re-election on November 3.

He declined to say whether Trump got anything in writing.

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