The White House said Monday that President Donald Trump was not informed of alleged rewards offered by Russia to militias linked to the Taliban for killing Western coalition soldiers in Afghanistan for lack of precision on intelligence data.
« There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations, » said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. « In fact, there are differing opinions, » he added, reiterating that the president was not informed about the explosive matter.
McEnany said that a group of congressmen from both parties were invited on Monday to the White House to be informed about the case.
The head of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, Steny Hoyer, confirmed late in the evening that he would meet with other members of his group at the government headquarters.
However, neither Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi nor Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority Democratic leader, received invitations, their teams told ..
Pelosi and Schumer, two big Trump critics who have a tense relationship with Trump, had called for an urgent briefing on those press releases.
In a letter addressed to the director of National Intelligence (DNI), John Ratcliffe, and to the director of the CIA, Gina Haspel, Pelosi said: « The questions that arise are: was the president informed, and if not, why not, and why Congress was not informed. «
Citing anonymous officials, The New York Times reported that Trump had been informed of the findings, which the president has denied.
McEnany said the White House briefing « will clear up many of the false New York Times reports. The president has made it clear that he was never informed. »
« The intelligence data is verified before it reaches the President of the United States. In this case, it was not verified, » he said.
– « Unexplained behavior » –
The New York Times article, confirmed by several American and British media, said on Friday that the US intelligence services concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition troops. led by the United States in Afghanistan.
The rewards were supposedly incentives to attack U.S. forces, as Trump tries to withdraw troops from that conflict-devastated country and end America’s longest war.
Pelosi asked intelligence chiefs for a briefing for all members of the House of Representatives on these transcendents and « President Trump’s inexplicable behavior toward Russia. »
« Congress needs to know what the intelligence community knows about this major threat to US troops and our allies, as well as the options available to hold Russia to account, » Pelosi wrote.
Schumer echoed his call.
For his part, Trump’s Democratic rival in the November presidential elections, Joe Biden, estimated during an online fundraising session that the president « from the beginning gave (to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin) a place that it does not deserve, to the detriment of our alliances in Europe and elsewhere. «
Trump denied on Sunday that he was informed of this matter, which renewed questions about his reluctance to confront Russia.
« The intelligence services have just informed me that they did not find this credible information and therefore did not report it to me or the Vice President, » Mike Pence, Trump tweeted.
But even in Republican ranks there were expressions of concern.
« If intelligence reports are verified that Russia or any other country is offering rewards on (the lives of) US troops, then they should be treated as state sponsors of terrorism, » Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican on the committee, said on Twitter. of the Armed Forces of the Upper House.
According to official Pentagon figures, no member of the US military has been killed in Afghanistan since the end of March.
The Taliban denied the report and reiterated that they were committed to an agreement signed on February 29 with Washington, which paves the way for withdrawing all foreign forces from Afghanistan by next year.
Russia has also denied the information as « unsubstantiated ».
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