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Bolton blasts Trump for denying he was briefed on Russia offering bounties to Taliban to kill US troops

28 Jun 2020 Fox News

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton criticized on Sunday President Trump’s response to reports that Russian military operatives offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill U.S. troops – saying Trump’s decision-making is “not connected to reality” and bashing the president for denying that he was aware of the bounties.

The comments by Bolton, whose upcoming memoir about his time in the Trump White House has drawn the ire of the president, come as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling on action to be taken against Moscow following reports in the New York Times that a Russian spy unit paid the Taliban to attack U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan.

Trump sent out a tweet early Sunday morning denying that he had ever been briefed about the Russian bounties and questioning the veracity of the New York Times’ reporting.

“This is the problem with the president's decision-making,” Bolton said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It's not connected to reality, it’s connected to his personal position.”


Bolton added that if Trump had actually not been informed about the alleged bounties on U.S.  troops, then he should have had the director of national intelligence report to him on the matter. Former Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, was recently confirmed as Trump’s new DNI and said over the weekend that he never briefed the president on the issue.

“If the president hadn't heard, presumably, he should have called up the DNI, and asked,” Bolton said. “That in and of itself is disturbing.”


The New York Times first reported that American intelligence officials have determined a Russian military unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces, including targeting American troops. The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post also reported on the Kremlin's effort to orchestrate attacks on Western troops.

The assessment of the role played by Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, in fostering attacks on American soldiers, comes as President Trump is pushing the Pentagon to withdraw a significant portion of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and as U.S. diplomats try to forge a peace accord involving the Taliban and the U.S.-backed Afghan government.

The intelligence assessment regarding Russia’s actions in Afghanistan was delivered to the White House earlier this spring, and until recently had been known only to a handful of officials, a person familiar with it said. Its contents were reported earlier Friday by the New York Times.


The reporting quickly became fodder for the 2020 presidential campaign.

During a town hall Saturday, former Vice President Joe Biden brought up the “shocking revelation” that Trump reportedly knew of the bounties for months and slammed the president for doing “worse than nothing.”


“Not only has he failed to sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin,” Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said. “He has had this information according to the Times, and yet he offered to host Putin in the United States and sought to invite Russia to rejoin the G7.  His entire presidency has been a gift to Putin.”

Sunday morning, Trump fired back at Biden, reiterating his position that Russia took advantage of him and Obama during the previous administration.

"Funny to see Corrupt Joe Biden reading a statement on Russia, which was obviously written by his handlers," Trump tweeted. "Russia ate his and Obama’s lunch during their time in office, so badly that Obama wanted them out of the then G-8. U.S. was weak on everything, but especially Russia!"

Fox News’ Marissa Schultz contributed to this report.

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