Since the news reports emerged, Democrats and some Republicans have been demanding details from the administration. Early Monday, congressional aides indicated no briefing had been set up for the House intelligence, armed services or foreign affairs committee. It’s unclear if the Gang of Eight — the leaders of the House and Senate, as well as the intelligence committee — will be briefed, but as of Monday morning there was no meeting scheduled, per a congressional source.
Democrats have long accused Trump of being soft on Russia and its president Vladimir Putin, despite the country’s well-documented attempts to interfere in U.S. elections, its aggression in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, and its support of Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s brutal civil war. Those allegations were inflamed anew earlier this month with the publication of a memoir by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, who accused the president of cozying up to autocrats, including Putin, for political gain.
The new allegations — which the New York Times and Washington Post reported may have led to the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan — have once again brought Trump’s relationship with Russia under scrutiny.
Senior House Democrats were furious with the reports, which first surfaced Saturday. Pelosi told ABC ‘s ‘This Week” on Sunday: “This is as bad as it gets.”
“If reports are true that Russia offered a bounty on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Trump wasn’t briefed, that’s a problem,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tweeted Sunday. “What will it take to get Trump to abandon the fiction that Putin is our friend?”
Some Republicans, too, have vowed to investigate the reports. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close confidant of Trump who spent part of the weekend golfing with the president, called it “imperative” that Congress learn the details.
“I expect the Trump Administration to take such allegations seriously and inform Congress immediately as to the reliability of these news reports,” Graham tweeted.
Trump retweeted Graham’s comment late Sunday to downplay the new reports.
“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP,” Trump said. “Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!”
Democrats, however, hammered the president over the bounties.
“It’s sickening that American soldiers have been killed as a result of Russian bounties on their heads, and the Commander in Chief didn’t do a thing to stop it,” said Max Rose (D-N.Y.), a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan.
Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris contributed to this story.