Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden has accused President Donald Trump of betraying his duty, after a report claimed that Washington knew for months Russian intelligence offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. soldiers but did not punish Moscow, CNBC reported.
“His entire presidency has been a gift to Putin, but this is beyond the pale. It’s 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. It’s a betrayal of every single American family with a loved one serving in Afghanistan or anywhere overseas,” Biden said on Saturday.
The New York Times reported last week that months ago, a Russian military intelligence unit offered Taliban-linked militants bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.
The President was briefed on the intelligence and the White House National Security Council discussed the findings at a meeting in late March, according to the Times, which cited officials briefed on the matter. Officials developed options from a diplomatic complaint to sanctions, but Washington has not yet authorized a response.
The Wall Street Journal also reported last week that a Russian spy unit paid militants in Afghanistan to attack U.S. troops, citing people familiar with classified American intelligence. The assessment was delivered to the White House earlier this spring, a person familiar with the intel told the Journal.
During the weekend, the White House denied that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were briefed on the matter, but did not dispute the validity of the intelligence as described in the New York Times’ report.
“The United States receives thousands of intelligence reports a day and they are subject to strict scrutiny,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. “While the White House does not routinely comment on alleged intelligence or internal deliberations, 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.”
“This 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,” McEnany noted.
Trump tweeted on Sunday that he, Pence and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were not briefed on what he referred to as “the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians.”
The Trump administration reached a deal with the Taliban in February to reduce the U.S. troop presence and established a cease-fire, with the goal of completely withdrawing from Afghanistan in 14 months.
Biden also slammed Trump for inviting Russia to join a summit meeting of seven world powers, known as the G-7, in Washington this September after allegedly being briefed on the plot to kill U.S. soldiers. Russia was kicked out of the group in 2014 after annexing Crimea from Ukraine.