An unnamed intelligence official told CBS News reporter Catherine Herridge that intelligence reports of Russia offering the Taliban bounty payments to kill US soldiers were “uncorroborated,” and the information was not presented to President Trump.
The official told Herridge that the National Security Council (NSC) assessed the intelligence and found it “does not match well-established and verifiable Taliban and Haqqani practices” and lacks “sufficient reporting to corroborate any links.” The official also said the intelligence reached low levels of the NSC but did not make it into the president or vice president’s daily briefing.
On Friday, The New York Times claimed that President Trump received a briefing on intelligence that said Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill US and NATO troops, citing anonymous intelligence officials who were “briefed on the matter.” Media outlets and Trump’s political opponents jumped on the story, accusing Trump of ignoring the intelligence and putting US troops in danger.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany made similar comments to Herridge’s source at a press conference on Monday. McEnany said there was “no consensus” on the validity of the Russian bounty story in the intelligence community, and said the president is only briefed on “verified” intelligence.
The White House briefed eight House Republicans on the intelligence on Monday. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) attended the briefing and said on Twitter that the Times used “unconfirmed” intelligence from an “ongoing” investigation.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) also attended the briefing. “Media reports that POTUS was briefed on Russian plans to pay bounties for killing US soldiers is not true. The raw intelligence simply did not reach the level of credibility sufficient to brief the president,” Rep. Stewart said. House Democrats are expected to be briefed on the intelligence Tuesday morning.