[NFA] Russian bounty offers to Taliban militants are believed to have led to the death of at least one U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, according to American intelligence, two newspapers reported, and Congress on Monday demanded more information about the reports. Gavino Garay has the story.
- Russian bounty offers to Taliban militants are believed to have led to the death of at least one US soldier in Afghanistan according to US intelligence, two American newspapers reported. The "New York Times" reported US intelligence officials believe at least one American military death stemmed from the bounties, citing two officials briefed on the matter. The "Washington Post" reported late on Sunday that several American soldiers are believed to have died as a result of the Russian program, which the Kremlin has denied. Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports.
Trump sought to cast doubt on the Russian bounty effort, saying on Sunday he was never briefed on the matter. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday did not confirm or deny the reporting.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY: There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations, and, in effect, there are dissenting opinions from some in the intelligence community with regards to the veracity of what's being reported, and the veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.
- The "New York Times" report on the Russian program on Friday cited unnamed officials as saying the intelligence finding was briefed to Trump and the National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March. McEnany said the "Times" report that Trump was briefed on the matter was false.
Four US government sources familiar with intelligence reporting and analysis confirmed to Reuters the existence of classified US intelligence reports alleging that a Russian military intelligence unit had offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill US and allied forces in Afghanistan.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday demanded the top-two US intelligence officials provide an immediate briefing for lawmakers. Pelosi writing, "The questions that arise are was the president briefed? And if not, why not? And why was Congress not briefed?"
Republican Senator Todd Young on Monday expressed deep concern about the reports and said that if there was some veracity to them, Russia should not be invited to the next Group of Seven meetings hosted by the US.