A bipartisan group of congressional leaders is demanding the Trump administration explain what it knew about reports US intelligence concluded Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill US troops.
The White House briefed a group of House Republican lawmakers on the matter on Monday, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and CIA Director Gina Haspel to provide all-member briefings to Congress on the intelligence. And several key Senate Republicans said they are seeking more information from the Trump administration, too.
“Congress and the country need answers now,” wrote Pelosi, a Democrat from California. “Congress needs to know what the intelligence community knows about this significant threat to American troops and our allies and what options are available to hold Russia accountable. The Administration’s disturbing silence and inaction endanger the lives of our troops and our coalition partners.”
The swift response underscored the congressional push for information about the US intelligence – and swirling questions over whether President Donald Trump was briefed about it, which Trump has denied. Pelosi – a member of the “Gang of Eight,” the congressional leaders who are briefed on sensitive intelligence matters – said Sunday she was not told about the bounties offered to the Taliban. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees declined to comment.
“It seems clear that the intelligence is real. The question is whether the President was briefed,” Pelosi told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Monday. “If he was not briefed, why would he not be briefed? Were they afraid to approach him on the subject of Russia?”
This weekend, The New York Times, CNN and other news outlets reported Russian intelligence officers offered money to Taliban militants in Afghanistan as rewards if they killed US or UK troops there. While it’s unclear whether Trump was aware, there have been recent discussions at high levels between the US and the UK to share the intelligence, two sources familiar with the discussions told CNN.