The New York Times reported late Monday that American officials provided a written briefing to President Trump in late February, alerting him to the Russian bounty scheme that sought to bribe Afghan militants in the killing of coalition forces and American troops.
The briefing was confirmed by two officials familiar with the matter, the Times said. The Times’ revelation comes as the White House redoubles its efforts to cast doubt over the finding that Russia both targeted and sought to reward militants for the killing of American and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
“There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Monday.
Late Monday, John Ratcliffe, the recently confirmed director of national intelligence, issued a warning that leaks about the intelligence were a crime, according to The Times.
“We are still investigating the alleged intelligence referenced in recent media reporting, and we will brief the president and congressional leaders at the appropriate time,”Ratcliffe said in a statement.
President Trump has also remained firm in the denial narrative, claiming that he was briefed on the issue which he has referred to in tweets as a “so-called attack” that may have been fabricated by the “Fake News Media.”
The President tweeted later on Sunday that he had “just” been briefed on the Russian bounty intelligence and that intelligence officials had deemed it as not “credible” at the time and therefore “did not report it to me or @VP” until this weekend.
His characterization clashes with the assessment of intelligence officials who shared information about the Russian bribery scheme in a May 4 article in the C.I.A.’s classified “World Intelligence Review,” two officials told The Times.
It is said that Trump is not known to regularly or completely read the President’s Daily Brief and instead relies on oral briefings several times a week. The White House has maintained in coy and carefully selected language that the president was “not personally briefed” on the Russian bounty intelligence.