President Donald Trump knew earlier than was previously reported about alleged Russian bounties offered to Afghan militants to kill American service members, according to new reports Monday night, CNBC writes.
According to The New York Times, Trump received a written briefing in February about intelligence regarding the alleged bounties. The newspaper cited two officials with knowledge of the matter.
The Associated Press also reported that the White House was aware of the matter much earlier, in early 2019. Then-national security advisor John Bolton told colleagues that he briefed Trump on the matter in March 2019, the AP added.
Last week, Bolton published a tell-all memoir about his time in the White House, with the narrative being full of withering condemnations of Trump and unflattering anecdotes about him. The President has slammed the book as full of lies, while the administration unsuccessfully sought to block the book’s publication, CNBC added.
Trump and the White House have denied that the President had been briefed on the intelligence assessment regarding the Russian bounties. The White House also responded that the intelligence underpinning the claim was unverified.
On Monday, National security advisor Robert O’Brien condemned the leaks and asserted that the President had not been briefed.
“Because the allegations in recent press articles have not been verified or substantiated by the Intelligence Community, President Trump had not been briefed on the items,” O’Brien said. “Nevertheless, the Administration, including the National Security Council staff, have been preparing should the situation warrant action.”
“The Department of Defense continues to evaluate intelligence that Russian GRU operatives were engaged in malign activity against United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan,” Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement to NBC News.
“To date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports,” he said. “Regardless, we always take the safety and security of our forces in Afghanistan – and around the world – most seriously and therefore continuously adopt measures to prevent harm from potential threats.”