While the year 2020 has certainly been full of disheartening and troubling news stories, one of the latest tidbits coming out of the Middle East is perhaps the most worrisome in some time.
Days ago, the United States learned of a possible scheme being perpetrated by the Russian government in which Putin and his military were allegedly paying bounties to the Taliban in Afghanistan for every American soldier that they killed. This would, of course, deserve a severe response from the US government which, to this point, has not yet been given on account of the White House’s uncertainty about the veracity of these claims.
Now, the Associated Press is reporting that the Trump administration was made aware of this possible deal all the way back in 2019.
Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported, according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence.
The assessment was included in at least one of President Donald Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to the officials. Then-national security adviser John Bolton also told colleagues at the time that he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.
The White House didn’t respond to questions about Trump or other officials’ awareness of Russia’s provocations in 2019. The White House has said Trump wasn’t — and still hasn’t been — briefed on the intelligence assessments because they haven’t been fully verified. However, it’s rare for intelligence to be confirmed without a shadow of a doubt before it is presented to top officials.
John Bolton, former White House adviser-turned-author, declined to make an official comment on the matter during an interview with NBC, but used the opportunity to take a cheap shot at President Trump, claiming that the administration was claiming ignorance on the plot in order to save face.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has stated that intelligence officials have yet to come to a consensus regarding the situation.
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