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The New York Times reported last Friday that US Intelligence has concluded that a Russian military unit offered money to Taliban militants for attacks on American soldiers. On Sunday, the paper published an additional report that held that US intelligence and Special Operations forces had alerted superiors in January about the bounties. President Trump denied the accusations.
The White House reportedly knew as far back as 2019 about the Russian intelligence offer to Taliban forces.
Reports initially stated that Trump did not learn about the bounties until March this year.
Anonymous US officials revealed that the White House was made aware of the bounties to the Associated Press.
According to the officials, at least one of the president’s daily intelligence briefs contained information about the Russian intelligence unit.
On Sunday, the president denied any knowledge about the bounties: “Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us.
“Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration.”
The White House also said that Trump was not yet briefed on the intelligence, as it had not been fully verified.
It is rare for intelligence to be fully confirmed before presented to top officials.
John Bolton, who was then the national security adviser, also told colleagues that he briefed Mr Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.
He refused to comment on the matter on Monday, but on Sunday, he suggested to NBC’s Meet The Press that Trump was claiming ignorance to justify a lack of a response.
Mr Bolton said: “He can disown everything if nobody ever told him about it.”
Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened, also claimed that Trump turned a blind eye to foreign leaders actions in exchange for assistance in re-election.
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The reveal has cast more doubt on the White House’s stance on Russian attacks on the US.
The intelligence was issued to the White House before Trump called for Russia to be reinstated to the G8.
Officials said they did not consider the intelligence assessments in 2019 to be particularly urgent, given that Russian meddling in Afghanistan is not a new occurrence.
The officials with knowledge of Mr Bolton’s apparent briefing for Mr Trump said it contained no “actionable intelligence,” meaning the intelligence community did not have enough information to form a strategic plan or response.
However, the classified assessment of Russian bounties was the sole purpose of the meeting.
Trump’s perceived refusal to act on the threats has been criticised by observers, including presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who said during a Saturday town hall that Trump was “debasing himself” in front of Putin.
Biden said: “His entire presidency has been a gift to Putin, but this beyond the pale.
“It’s a betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation, to protect and equip our troops when we send them into harm’s way.”
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