Katko: Congress should investigate secret Russian bounties and what Trump was told

30 Juin, 2020, 10:50 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau

The Kremlin on Monday also denied the report, first published by the New York Times on Friday, that Russian forces had offered to pay Taliban-linked fighters to kill American and other Western soldiers in Afghanistan.

Russian bounty offers to Taliban militants are believed to have led to the death of at least one US soldier in Afghanistan, according to American intelligence, two newspapers reported, and Congress on Monday demanded more information about the reports. "I say that not only as a member of Congress, but as the father of an Army infantry soldier".

The president tweeted Sunday that he followed up with intelligence officials and learned that the information they received was not credible.

The intelligence community has been investigating an April 2019 attack on an American convoy that killed three U.S. Marines after a auto rigged with explosives detonated near their armoured vehicles as they travelled back to Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military installation in Afghanistan, officials told the AP.

Trump on Sunday denied having been briefed on the matter, as the reporting renewed questions about his reluctance to confront Russian Federation over behavior that, if accurate, would represent a serious national security challenge.

In a later post on June 29, Trump wrote, "Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or [the Vice President]".

"If in the US the special services are continuing to report to the president, I suggest that one be guided by the relevant statement of President Trump, who has already given his assessment of these publications", he told reporters during a conference call.

The New York Times and the Associated Press news agency also reported U.S. military and intelligence officials were reviewing past casualties to see whether they were tied to Moscow's alleged payments. "I have asked the administration to share what it knows, and I expect to know more in the coming days".

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Four U.S. government sources familiar with intelligence reporting and analysis confirmed to Reuters the existence of classified U.S. intelligence reports alleging that a Russian military intelligence unit had offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn told reporters Monday, "I don't think it's should be a surprise to anybody that the Taliban's been trying to kill Americans and that the Russians have been encouraging that, if not providing means to make that happen". If not, he wants to know why.

Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican acting intelligence committee chairman, declined to comment on the reports, saying on Twitter the committee would "continue to conduct vigorous oversight" of threats facing the United States.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said, "After today's briefing with senior White House officials, we remain concerned about Russian activity in Afghanistan, including reports that they have targeted USA forces".

"We need to know whether or not President Trump was told this information, and if so, when".

White House officials are set to brief some Democrat lawmakers on the matter on Tuesday morning, the aide to House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said.

"I am calling for the Directors of National Intelligence and the CIA to immediately brief all 100 Senators on reports that Russian Federation placed bounties on US troops in Afghanistan", said Schumer, D-N.Y.

The press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin told The New York Times that the Kremlin had not been made aware of the accusations contained in the report.

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