President Trump said Sunday evening that U.S. intelligence agencies decided not to brief him on reports that Russia had put a bounty on American servicemen because they didn’t think the information credible.
Mr. Trump made the claim in response to a demand by Sen. Lindsey Graham that Congress get to the bottom of whether “Russian GRU units in Afghanistan have offered to pay the Taliban to kill American soldiers.”
Mr. Trump quote-tweeted Mr. Graham and replied: “intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me” or Vice President Mike Pence.
“Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad,” he concluded.
The New York Times first reported the bounty program Friday, including claims that the president had been briefed on it. Mr. Trump and all the major U.S. intelligence have emphatically denied that such a briefing occurred.
Sunday evening’s tweet by Mr. Trump is the first elaboration for why it didn’t.
Besides Mr. Graham’s demand, the House third-ranking Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, wrote Sunday on Twitter that if the report of Russian bounties “is true, the White House must explain” why Mr. Trump wasn’t told as well as who was.
Four U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan earlier this year, but it wasn’t clear whether any of the deaths were linked to any such Russia-Taliban bounties.