Esper assures troops after NYT report on Russian bounties

Financial transfers from a Russian intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked bank account support detainee information suggesting Russia paid Taliban militant

The comments come as the White House continues to distance President Donald Trump from the report, with the president saying intelligence officials reported they did not find the information credible and thus did not brief him on the subject.

Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and Russian policy officer for the Commander in Chief, U.S. Navy Europe office, was one of several lawmakers with military or intelligence backgrounds who joined House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., at the invitation of the White House.

"I have yet to be briefed by the White House on the issue, but the reports are extremely troubling".

"Other senior Democratic lawmakers also expressed concerns about the administration's handling of the intelligence and, specifically, its inclination to downplay the possible consequences".

Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was concerned over whether the president was being kept informed about crucial intelligence.

That raised serious concerns among both Trump's fellow Republicans and Democrats not only about the safety of US forces but also about the administration's handling of the matter.

"What I can say is there's certainly evidence of Russian involvement, and I think we should do more to pursue that and do more to hold the Russians accountable for their activity in Afghanistan", Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told reporters Tuesday during a conference call.

However, if the intelligence reports are true, as we are led to believe, the observer is left with the dissatisfaction of receiving no such clarification, insight, or inclination as to the veracity of the claims.

"I thought this briefing was the White House personnel telling us their perspective".

This damning intelligence report was allegedly briefed to President Trump in March, and the White House's National Security Council discussed the problem and created a menu of response options around that time. The report pointed out that 20 Americans were killed there in 2019.

Hoyer also criticized the fact that the briefing at the White House did not include perspectives from intelligence agency officials.

Since these revelations have hit the headlines, a rowdy debate has erupted in the political-junkie world over whether Trump actively chose to ignore intelligence that Russian Federation was paying Taliban fighters to kill American troops, or he simply didn't understand the intelligence because he doesn't read written briefings and doesn't pay attention to oral briefings.

Suspicion towards the president stems from his campaign trail promise to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as from suspected collusion between the Kremlin and Trump's election team that has occupied attention for most of his term.

According to the Associated Press, members of Congress in both parties called for additional information and consequences for Russian Federation and its president, Vladimir Putin, and eight Democrats were briefed on the matter Tuesday morning.

Major news outlets reported that Trump was briefed on the alleged plot earlier this year, with the New York Times reporting that the information was contained in the president's Daily Brief in late February, with one official specifically citing the Feb. 27 report.

The press secretary said there have been targeted leaks of classified information against Trump.

"Everything I understand the president was not briefed about this", Kinzinger said in the CNN interview.

The director of national intelligence and the CIA decried the intelligence leaks about the Russian bounty program in separate statements Monday, saying it could hamper their ongoing analysis about the Russian program. "It is also, simply put, a crime", Ratcliffe said in his statement.

The White House did not respond to questions about Trump or other officials' awareness of Russia's provocations in 2019.

"Leaks compromise and disrupt the critical interagency work to collect, assess and ascribe culpability", Haspel said.

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