Top White House Officials Claim John Bolton Briefed Trump About Russia Bounties in Early 2019: Report
President Donald Trump was reportedly briefed on the Russia-Taliban bounty killings program as far back as early 2019 and former National Security Advisor John Bolton personally discussed the intelligence assessment with him.
According to an Associated Press story published on Monday night, top White House officials said the timeline for the White House’s awareness of Russia’s attempt at meddling in the U.S. war in Afghanistan extends back nearly a year further than previously known.
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, Bolton also told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.
Both Trump and the White House have denied that Trump was verbally briefed on the bounty killings program, which the Washington Post had reported resulted in the death of at least one U.S. service member. Trump has since said intelligence officials did not discuss the reports with him because they were deemed not credible.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has also denied that country’s involvement in any payments to the Taliban to prompt battlefield killings of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Earlier on Monday, CNN reported that the bounty killings program had been included in a presidential daily brief in early 2020, but it was not clear that Trump, who rarely reads the briefing book, had been orally briefed about the threat to Americans in that theater.
“The revelations cast new doubt on the White House’s efforts to distance Trump from the Russian intelligence assessments,” the AP reported. “Concerns about Russian bounties were also included in a second written presidential daily briefing earlier this year and that current national security adviser Robert O’Brien had discussed the matter with Trump. O’Brien denies he did so.”
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