Trump National Security Advisor Says Russian Bounty Intel Was Shared With U.S. Allies
National security adviser Robert O’Brien said the U.S. shared its intelligence on Russia’s alleged bounty campaign with foreign allies, even as he insisted that President Donald Trump was not previously briefed on the matter.
Shortly before O’Brien appeared for an interview with Fox & Friends on Wednesday, Trump railed against The New York Times on Twitter, claiming their reporting that he was briefed months ago that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militias for killing U.S. troops was a “HOAX!”
When O’Brien came on, he showered Trump with praise, called it a “another false story” from the Times, and backed up the administration’s claim that “the president was not briefed because at the time of these allegations, they were uncorroborated.”
He went on to lament that it “may be impossible to get to the bottom of” verifying the intel “because someone decided to leak to hurt the president rather than uphold their obligations to the American people that they undertook when they became an intelligence officer or government employee.”
As O’Brien explained how Trump receives his intelligence briefings, he continued to emphasize that with Russian bounties. “we were dealing with something that was unverified, corroborated. There was no consensus in the IC.”
After that, he said the information was taken to U.S. allies while the government prepared a list of retaliatory steps Trump could take if it was verified:
The real story here should be what the United States did. So when this unverified intelligence came in, although it wasn’t necessary to give to the president at the strategic level because we were trying to verify it and corroborate it, the CIA — as Gina Haspel stated in a public document the other day — put it out to our allies, to our coalition partners, to the DOD. The Department of Defense has come out and said they took all force protection measures necessary. And then at the NSC, at my shop, we began running an interagency process bringing the government together to say, ‘look, if this eventually becomes something that’s proven…we need to have options for the president to deal with the Russians.’ I can tell you this. If this information turned out to be true…we had options ready to go and the president was ready to take strong action as he always is.
The interagency dissemination of raw intel does not preclude the president from being notified. O’Brien continued by calling it “entirely unfair” and “a tragedy” that Trump’s opponents are criticizing the president on the subject.
After O’Brien’s interview wrapped up, Trump once again posted on Twitter:
“No corroborating evidence to back reports.” Department of Defense. Do people still not understand that this is all a made up Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me & the Republican Party. I was never briefed because any info that they may have had did not rise to that level
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2020
Watch above, via Fox News.
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