Trump faces pressure over Russia bounties to kill US troops

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Trump faces pressure over Russia bounties to kill US troops

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

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WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AP) — President Donald Trump yesterday came under growing pressure to respond to allegations that Russia offered bounties for killing American troops in Afghanistan, with Democrats demanding answers and accusing Trump of bowing to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the risk of US soldiers' lives.

Frustrated House Democrats returning from a briefing at the White House said they learned nothing new about American intelligence assessments that suggested Russia was making overtures to militants as the US and the Taliban held talks to end the conflict in Afghanistan. Senate Republicans who attended a separate briefing largely defended the president, arguing along with the White House that the intelligence was unverified.

The intelligence assessments were first reported by The New York Times, then confirmed to The Associated Press by American intelligence officials and others with knowledge of the matter.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that Trump had been briefed on the intelligence, a day after saying he hadn't because it had not been verified. McEnany added that there were still reservations within the intelligence community on the veracity of the allegations.

“Make no mistake. This president will always protect American troops,” she said.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and a small group of other House Democrats met with White House officials as Trump downplayed the allegations. The Democrats questioned why Trump wouldn't have been briefed sooner and pushed White House officials to have the president make a strong statement about the matter.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, one of the Democrats who attended the briefing, said it was “inexplicable” why Trump won't say publicly that he is working to get to the bottom of the issue and why he won't call out Putin. He said Trump's defence that he hadn't been briefed was inexcusable.

“Many of us do not understand his affinity for that autocratic ruler who means our nation ill,” Schiff said.


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