June 28, 2020 | 9:04am | Updated June 28, 2020 | 10:27am
President Trump on Sunday adamantly denied that he and Vice President Mike Pence had been briefed about a bounty Russia allegedly paid the Taliban to kill US forces in Afghanistan, backing up earlier White House claims that the two were unaware.
“Nobody briefed or told me, @VPPence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an ‘anonymous source by the Fake News @nytimes. Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us,” Trump posted on Twitter.
“Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine – Where’s Hunter?” he continued. “Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their ‘source’?”
He called on the newspaper to reveal its source, but added that “this ‘person’ probably does not even exist!”
The New York Times reported on the bounties on Friday and claimed the president was made aware about the situation and was discussed in late March by the White House’s National Security Council.
The report said several options were weighed — including sanctions and a complaint to be made via diplomatic channel — but the White House had yet to authorize any response. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe released statements on Saturday saying that Trump and Pence had not been briefed.
McEnany’s statement commented on the “inaccuracy of The New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter.”
Trump, in a third tweet, criticized how Joe Biden and the Obama administration handled Russia relations.
“Funny to see Corrupt Joe Biden reading a statement on Russia, which was obviously written by his handlers. Russia ate his and Obama’s lunch during their time in office, so badly that Obama wanted them out of the then G-8. U.S. was weak on everything, but especially Russia!,” he said in the posting.
Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, blasted Trump on Saturday for failing to protect American troops.
“His entire presidency has been a gift to Putin, but this is beyond the pale,” the former vice president said at a virtual town hall, referring to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “It’s a betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation, to protect and equip our troops when we send them into harm’s way.”
Former President Barack Obama and other members of the Group of 8 industrialized nations ousted Russia from the association in 2014 following Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
Trump, who is hosting this year’s meeting of the G-7, has proposed inviting Russia to September’s expected gathering.