Reports say Russia offered bounties for the killings of US troops in Afghanistan. Trump says he knew nothing

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) speaks to reporters as House Democrats respond to a White House briefing on reports Russia paid the Taliban bounties to kill U.S. troops during a news conference in Washington, U.S., June 30, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

The Associated Press reports the White House knew more than a year ago that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked forces to kill coalition troops in Afghanistan. The New York Times first reported on Monday that President Trump received a written briefing in late February on the matter.

CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe criticized leaks to the media, but didn’t address the facts in the story. 

President Trump says he never heard about it and claims it could be a hoax. 

Republican lawmakers went to the White House for a briefing on Monday.  

Today, Wyoming Republian Congresswoman Liz Cheney didn’t mince words. “I want to be absolutely clear that America’s adversaries should know, and they should have no doubt that any targeting of U.S. forces by Russians, by anyone else, will face a very swift and deadly response,” she said.

Democrats received their own briefing today. Burbank Congressman Adam Schiff, the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said he doesn’t know why President Trump hasn’t said he’ll get to the bottom of this.

“I do not understand for a moment why the president isn’t saying this to the American people right now. And is relying on, ‘I don’t know. I haven’t heard. I haven’t been briefed.’ That’s just not excusable,” he said.

Washington Post national security reporter Ellen Nakashima tells KCRW, “To have them paying bounties to kill U.S. and coalition troops is a real escalation of tactics. It’s highly concerning. And for the president not to have been apprised of that is pretty disturbing as well.”