WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has denied a media report that he was made aware of U.S. intelligence officials’ conclusions Russia secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing American troops in Afghanistan.
The report, which provides no evidence for the briefing, cites unnamed U.S. intelligence officials.
The Trump administration was set to brief select members of Congress on the matter today.
The reported intelligence assessments came amid Trump’s push to withdraw the U.S. from Afghanistan and suggested Russia was making overtures to militants as the U.S. and the Taliban held talks to end the long-running war.
There are conflicting reports about whether Trump was aware of Russia’s actions.
Trump tweeted on Sunday neither he nor Vice President Mike Pence had been briefed — adding later Sunday night that he was just told intelligence officials didn’t report the information to him because they didn’t find it credible.
The White House National Security Council wouldn't confirm the assessments but said the U.S. receives thousands of intelligence reports daily that are subject to strict scrutiny.
Democratic presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden said that the reports, if true, would be a “truly shocking revelation.”
Russia called the report “nonsense” through its Russian Foreign Ministry.
The Kremlin on Monday echoed that sentiment and called the report “a lie.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he regretted “the biggest, respectful and high-class international media organizations have not been above publishing absolute hoaxes in recent years.”
A Taliban spokesman said the militants “strongly reject this allegation” and aren't “indebted to the beneficence of any intelligence organ or foreign country.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the few congressional leaders typically briefed on sensitive intelligence matters, told ABC’s “This Week” she hadn't been informed about the reported bounties and requested a report to Congress on the matter.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.