The White House reportedly delivered a briefing to several top House Republicans on intelligence that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan to kill U.S. troops — a meeting that Democrats were reportedly not invited to attend.
As Politico reported, the briefing included seven top Republican members of Congress, including the ranking members of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs panels. The chairs of those panels, all Democrats, were not included. The report noted that such high-level briefings have traditionally been bipartisan. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows reportedly called House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to schedule a briefing for Democrats, but Politico noted that it was not clear when that would take place.
One of those included in the briefing, Indiana congressman Jim Banks, later took to Twitter to claim that the reports of Trump ignoring the bounty program were false.
I just left the White House where I was briefed by CoS @MarkMeadows and top intelligence officials. They discussed @nytimes' hit piece falsely accusing @realDonaldTrump of ignoring reports that Russia placed bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan.
A thread, ????
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) June 29, 2020
The one-sided briefing, especially amid growing pressure on President Donald Trump for reportedly not taking action on the reports or condemning Russia, has led to criticism from many Democrats. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz tweeted that it makes it appear that the White House is politicizing the media.
“It’s hard to say the Trump Administration isn’t politicizing the military when only members of their party get invited to the briefing,” she tweeted, via Politico.
As The Inquisitr reported, there is growing pressure on Trump from the military and intelligence communities to offer some kind of response to the alleged bounties. The Washington Post‘s David Ignatius said that military leaders at the Pentagon were “pounding on the door” to get Trump to address the situation when it was first discovered months ago.
“It’s clear in late March you had senior U.S commanders, senior civilian intelligence officials, in effect pounding on the door of the White House saying we need to do something about this, we need to come to a conclusion about what damage the Russian program is doing, we need to reassess our programs in Afghanistan and they couldn’t get an answer,” Ignatius said during an appearance on MSNBC, via Raw Story.
Trump has long been criticized for his actions toward Russia, including what critics see as a too-cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin despite Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
There has been uncertainty over whether Trump knew about the program. While many of the reports indicate that he was aware but had not taken action, the White House said that Trump himself was never briefed on the alleged bounties offered for killing U.S. troops. Trump himself took to social media to claim that he did not know about it, and hinted that the original story was false.