- The Washington Times - Monday, June 29, 2020

The reports that Russian military intelligence officers set a bounty for Taliban soldiers to attack U.S. troops and coalition partners are “deeply concerning,” the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Monday.

Rep. Adam Smith, Washington State Democrat, suggested that had the Trump administration acted on information that the intelligence community had on the alleged bounties on U.S. troops as early as March, it could have saved lives.

“If the reports are true, that the Administration knew about this Russian operation and did nothing, they have broken the trust of those who serve and the commitment to their families to ensure their loved one’s safety,” Mr. Smith said in a statement Monday.

The New York Times reported Friday that U.S. intelligence concluded months ago that Russian military intelligence agents had offered the bounties to militants linked to the Taliban. The paper said Mr. Trump was briefed on the matter, and that the National Security Council held a meeting about it in late March.

The president has since maintained that he was not briefed on the matter, and his Vice President and Chief of Staff were also not informed of the information. Administration officials have also denied the accusation that the president was told of bounties.

Four American soldiers have been killed in combat in Afghanistan this year.

“The American people – and our service members – deserve to know the truth about what the White House knew about these Russian operations that may have directly resulted in the deaths of American service members,” Mr. Smith said, claiming it is “imperative” for his committee to be briefed by the Pentagon on the matter.

“We must find out exactly what was known, and when it was known to hold the appropriate Administration officials and the Russian government accountable.”

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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