The White House denied Saturday that President Donald Trump had been briefed on intelligence that Russians offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition troops.
“The CIA Director, National Security Advisor, and the Chief of Staff can all confirm that neither the President nor the Vice President were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
McEnany also noted that the statement “does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter.”
The New York Times reported Friday that Trump had been briefed on the intelligence that Russian intelligence units secretly offered bounties to Taliban-related militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan during U.S.-Taliban peace talks.
The story also said the National Security Council discussed this issue at an interagency meeting in late March, while the White House thus far has not taken any actions to respond.The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, and the death toll of U.S. service members has surpassed 2,400 in this longest war in U.S. history.
Trump has long complained about the endlessness of the war and sought a full withdraw from the Central Asian country. In the agreement signed in late February between the United States and the Taliban, Washington said it will reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 within 135 days.
The agreement also calls for the full withdrawal of the U.S. military by May 2021 if the Taliban meets the conditions of the deal, including severing ties with terrorist groups.