Donald Trump was personally briefed on intelligence that Russia was secretly offering bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing U.S. troops in March 2019, a new report claims.
In the weeks after first learning about the bounties, Trump said nothing publicly about the assessment and even went on to brag about a “very good call” he had with Vladimir Putin and the “tremendous potential” for a relationship with Russia.
As The Associated Press reported on Monday, top White House officials were first aware of classified intelligence regarding the Russian bounties in early 2019, more than a year earlier than had originally been known. The report noted that the assessment was included in at least one of the written daily intelligence briefings delivered to Trump at the time, and former national security adviser John Bolton reportedly told colleagues that he had briefed Trump on the assessment in March 2019.
The report noted that the White House did not respond to questions regarding how much Trump was aware of Russia’s plan to offer bounties for killing U.S. soldiers, but reports from that time indicated that the president did not seem troubled by the allegation. As CNBC reported just weeks after Trump reportedly first learned of the bounties, he bragged about what he said was a productive phone call with Putin and hinted at expanding a relationship with Russia.
In a tweet, Trump hit at what he called “fake news” that he believed was downplaying the potential for a relationship with Russia.
“Very good call yesterday with President Putin of Russia. Tremendous potential for a good/great relationship with Russia, despite what you read and see in the Fake News Media,” he wrote.
The phone call also took place not long after an attack on an American convoy in Afghanistan that left three U.S. Marines dead.
“Three U.S. Marines were killed after a car rigged with explosives detonated near their armored vehicles as they returned to Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military installation in Afghanistan,” the report from The Associated Press noted.
As The Inquisitr reported, there is evidence that the Russian bounties led to the deaths of at least some U.S. service members. There were a total of 31 American deaths from hostile gunfire or improvised bombs in Afghanistan during the last two years, though it was unclear how many of these may have been connected to the bounties offered to militant groups.
The White House maintains that Trump was not told about the Russian bounties.