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Trump administration narrows suspects in Russia bounties leak investigation: report

07 Jul 2020 TheHill

Top White House officials have reportedly narrowed the list of potential individuals who could have leaked information about Russian agents providing funds to Taliban-linked militants to target American troops in Afghanistan.

Politico Playbook reported Tuesday that fewer than 10 people remain on a list of suspects in the internal investigation, a sign that President Trump is serious about finding and possibly punishing whichever official was behind the leak to the media.

The White House has faced a bipartisan storm of criticism from lawmakers and other figures, with Democrats and the president battling over whether Trump was briefed on the bounties and some, including Hillary Clinton, his 2016 opponent, accusing the president of ignoring his intelligence briefings entirely.

Congressional Republicans including Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) have also joined in on the criticism, demanding a firm response from the president, who has argued that intelligence surrounding the bounties was not credible.

"I'm interested in hearing the administration speak clearly about their plans that aren't just hypothetical sanctions sometime out in the future, but what should we be doing now to make [Russian intelligence] have more doubts about their behavior not just in Afghanistan but more broadly," Sasse told The Hill this week.

“We shouldn’t be cozied up to Russia or giving them favors of any kind,” added his colleague, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). “What we do know is Russia’s been helping the Taliban, the Taliban’s been killing Americans, and that’s all I need to know to know that we should be tough on Russia.”

“I certainly wouldn’t want to be inviting them to the G-7,” Romney continued, referring to the Group of Seven.

White House officials have engaged in numerous hunts for leakers throughout Trump's first term, though most have fizzled out without resulting in notable firings.

Original Link: https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/506147-trump-administration-narrows-suspects-in-russia-bounty-leak

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