House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week” said it was “totally outrageous” that President Donald Trump did not respond to reports that Russian intelligence officers offered to pay Taliban militants to target American troops, calling the lack of a U.S. response “appalling.”
“You would think that the minute he heard of this the president would want to know more instead of denying anything,” Pelosi said Sunday in an interview ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.
A military official confirmed to ABC News that Russian intelligence officers offered to pay militants to kill American service members in Afghanistan. The official didn’t know if Trump was briefed but said senior US officials were aware of the Russian effort for months.
“Now he says it’s fake news. Why would he say that?” Pelosi said. “Why wouldn’t he say, ‘Let’s look into it?'”
“This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score,” she added.
Pelosi said top congressional leaders were not aware of the intelligence, but would be seeking answers and try to determine if Trump was briefed. She also expressed concern that intelligence officials may have been afraid to broach the subject with the president.
Pelosi repeated her refrain that with Trump “all roads lead to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” a comment dating back to their confrontation at the White House last October, when they last spoke.
Pressed by Stephanopoulos on her suggestion that Russia has dirt on Trump, Pelosi did not offer any evidence, but pointed to his actions abroad that have benefited Russia, after their interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“I don’t know what the Russians have on the President politically, personally, or whatever it is, but he wants to ignore” Russian wrongdoing, Pelosi said.
“He is a gift to Russia — to diminish our leadership in NATO, to diminish our troops in Germany, all a gift to Putin,” she said. “Something is very wrong here. But this must have an answer.”
As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to increase across the country, Pelosi told Stephanopoulos she would support a federal mask mandate.
“It’s definitely long overdue for that,” she said. “My understanding is that the Centers for Disease Control has recommended the use of masks but not required it, because they don’t want to offend the President.”
“Real men wear masks,” she added. “It’s not about protecting yourself, it’s about protecting others.”
This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.