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Donald Trump claims he was never shown report about Russian bounty to kill US troops

29 Jun 2020 Daily Mail Online

President Donald Trump has denied that he was made aware of an intelligence report that Russia secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill American troops in Afghanistan

According to an initial New York Times report published Friday Trump had been briefed on the operation, believed to be initiated by the notoriously violent Unit 29155 of the G.R.U, an arm of Russia’s military intelligence agency, citing officials with knowledge on the matter.   

But Trump denied ever knowing about the operation, tweeting Sunday night that  neither he nor Vice President Mike Pence had been briefed.

'Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!' he tweeted, but he did not deny the intelligence assessment itself. 

However, a new Washington Post report published Sunday said that the Russian bounties offered to the Taliban militants are believed to have actually resulted in the deaths of several US service members. 

Both Russia and the Taliban have denied the existence of such a program to take out American troops. 

President Donald Trump has denied that he was made aware of that intelligence officials believed Russia secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill American troops in Afghanistan

According to an initial New York Times report published Friday Trump had been briefed on the operation, believed to be initiated by the notoriously violent Unit 29155 of the G.R.U, an arm of Russia’s military intelligence agency, citing officials with knowledge on the matter 

While it’s not clear how many American or coalition troops from other countries were killed or targeted in the operation, fatalities are believed to have taken place, according to intelligence from US military interrogations of captured militants in recent months.

US forces in Afghanistan suffered a total of 10 deaths from hostile gunfire or improvised bombs in 2018, and 16 in 2019. Two have been killed in 2020. 

In each of those years some service members were killed in what's known as 'greenon blue', hostile attacks launched by members of Afghan security forces, which are believed to be at times infiltrated by the Taliban.  

Several people familiar with the matter said intelligence of bounty killings was passed up from the US Special Operations forces based in Afghanistan to a restricted high-level White House meeting in late March. 

The CIA reviewed the report and confirmed the bounty operation, a senior US official said. The CIA reportedly took time to make its assessment, slowed down by a scale back in government functions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But there was disagreement among officials about the appropriate path to take moving forward. 

Special Envor for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, reportedly wanted to confront the Russians directly about the matter, while some National Security Council officials in charge of Russia were not in favor of taking immediate action, an official said to the Post. 

It's still not clear if any action was taken at all against Russia. 

National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said 'the veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.'

Richard Grenell, who served as acting director of national intelligence until last month, tweeted on the matter: 'I never heard this. And it’s disgusting how you continue to politicize intelligence.'

The Trump administration is set to brief select members of Congress on the shocking escalation of force against the US on Monday. 

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However, a new Washington Post report published Sunday said that the Russian bounties offered to the Taliban militants are believed to have actually resulted in the deaths of several US service members. American soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division deploy to fight Taliban fighters near the vilalge of Deh Afghan on June 22, 2006 

US forces in Afghanistan suffered a total of 10 deaths from hostile gunfire or improvised bombs in 2018, 16 in 2019 and two so far in 2020.  Some of those deaths were the result of 'insider attacks' known as 'green on blue', hostile attacks launched by members of Afghan security forces, which are believed to be at times infiltrated by the Taliban. Military personnel pictured carrying a transfer case for a fallen service member in March 2019 in Delaware

There are conflicting reports on whether Trump did ever know about the paid attacks on American troops. 

American intelligence officials and two others with knowledge of the matter confirmed to AP the president was briefed on the matter earlier this year. 

The assessment came amid Trump’s push to withdraw the US troops from Afghanistan and suggested that Russia was making overtures to militants as the US and the Taliban were holding talks to end the long-running war.  

The White House National Security Council would not confirm the assessments, but said the US receives thousands of intelligence reports daily that are subject to strict scrutiny.  

Now politicians on Capitol Hill are demanding answers and are calling for the White House to share more information with Congress.

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the number three Republican in the House, said if the operation was real, lawmakers need to know 'Who did know and when.'

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who golfed with Trump on Sunday, tweeted Saturday that it is 'Imperative Congress get to the bottom of recent media reports that Russian GRU units in Afghanistan have offered to pay the Taliban to kill American soldiers with the goal of pushing America out of the region.' 

Speaking on Russian President Vladimir Putin she said, 'What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?'

Russia slammed the report as 'nonsense.'

'This unsophisticated plant clearly illustrates the low intellectual abilities of the propagandists of American intelligence, who instead of inventing something more plausible have to make up this nonsense,' the Russian Foreign Minister said.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who golfed with Trump on Sunday, tweeted Saturday that it is 'Imperative Congress get to the bottom of recent media reports that Russian GRU units in Afghanistan have offered to pay the Taliban to kill American soldiers with the goal of pushing America out of the region'

Democratic presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden said reports that Trump was aware of the Russian bounties would be a 'truly shocking revelation' about the commander in chief and his failure to protect US troops in Afghanistan and stand up to Russia.

A Taliban spokesman said the militants 'strongly reject this allegation' and are not 'indebted to the beneficence of any intelligence organ or foreign country.'

John Bolton, a former national security adviser who was forced out by Trump last September and has now written a tell-all book about his time at the White House, said Sunday that 'it is pretty remarkable the president’s going out of his way to say he hasn’t heard anything about it. One asks, why would he do something like that?'

Bolton told NBC’s Meet the Press that he thinks the answer 'may be precisely because active Russian aggression like that against the American service members is a very, very serious matter and nothing’s been done about it, if it’s true, for these past four or five months, so it may look like he was negligent. But, of course, he can disown everything if nobody ever told him about it.'

Original Link: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8469385/Donald-Trump-claims-never-shown-report-Russian-bounty-kill-troops.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

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