Republican Lawmakers Press Donald Trump For Answers On Russia Bounty Reports

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a joint news conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the Rose Garden at the White House July 25, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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Republican lawmakers are pressing Donald Trump for answers in the wake of a New York Times report claiming that he did not take action against intelligence suggesting Russian intelligence offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill American troops in Afghanistan, Raw Story reported.

“I expect the Trump administration to take such allegations seriously and inform Congress immediately as to the reliability of these news reports,” tweeted South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

If the reporting is true, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney claimed that the White House must explain why the president and vice president were not briefed, if the information was in the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), who knew what information and when, and what actions have been taken to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable.

Outside of Republican lawmakers Graham and Cheney, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi revealed her thoughts on the matter Sunday on ABC News.

“This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score, denies being briefed. Whether he is or not, his administration knows.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on December 20, 2018 in Washington, DC.
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In a Sunday morning tweet, Trump claimed that he was never briefed on the alleged bounty program. Trump also attacked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his former boss, President Barack Obama, and accused them of corruption.

As reported by Associated Press, Trump’s director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, claimed that neither Trump nor Mike Pence was briefed on the alleged intelligence included in the New York Times report on the purported issue.

Former national security adviser John Bolton, who has criticized Trump for allegedly not being able to pay attention during briefings, also chimed in on the report and did not appear surprised at Trump’s response.

“He can disown everything if no one ever told him about it. It looks like just another day in the office at the Trump White House.”

A spokesman for the Taliban pushed back on the accusation and claimed that they do not have an obligation to the orders of “any intelligence organ or foreign country.” In addition, Russia has denied operating such a program, and the country’s embassy in the United States called the reports “fake news.”

Critics have pointed to the use of sources in the article — unnamed officials who are allegedly familiar with the intelligence. Notably, Grayzone journalist Aaron Maté pushed back against the report and suggested that it did not make sense that the Taliban would require an incentive to kill Americans.