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THE LINCOLN PROJECT: Treason Weasel

CNN: Russian bounties offered to Taliban militants in Afghanistan to kill US or UK troops there are believed to have resulted in the deaths of multiple US troops, the Washington Post reported Sunday, citing US intelligence gathered from military interrogations. […] CNN previously reported that Russian intelligence officers for the military intelligence agency GRU recently offered money to Taliban militants in Afghanistan as rewards if they killed US or UK troops there, according to a European intelligence official. The official told CNN the incentives offered by the Russians had, in their assessment, led to Coalition casualties, which would be service members’ deaths or injuries. […]

The New York Times first reported on Friday that US intelligence concluded months ago that Russian military intelligence offered the bounties, amid peace talks. President Donald Trump was briefed on the intelligence findings and the White House’s National Security Council held a meeting about it in late March, according to the New York Times, citing officials briefed on the matter.

Trump, however, has denied receiving a briefing about intelligence that Russians had tried to bribe Taliban fighters to kill US troops. The President tweeted Sunday that “there have not been many attacks” on US troops by Taliban fighters as evidence that the reported intelligence may be “phony.” His tweet went a step further than a Saturday statement from the White House in which press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not deny the validity of the report, but instead said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were not briefed “on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence.” MORE

WASHINGTON POST: Trump on Sunday confirmed statements by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and the White House press secretary that he received no briefing on the subject, and he referred in tweets to “so-called reports” by “Fake News.”

“Nobody briefed or told me, [Vice President] Pence or Chief of Staff [Mark Meadows] about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an ‘anonymous source’ by the Fake News . . . Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us,” Trump said on Twitter, insisting that “nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump administration.”

But his Twitter remarks did little to clarify whether the administration was denying that the assessment existed, or simply denying that Trump knew anything about it. Richard Grenell, who served as acting director of national intelligence until last month, tweeted that “I never heard this. And it’s disgusting how you continue to politicize intelligence.” MORE

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