House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) said on Tuesday that President Trump’s claims that he was not briefed on the Russian scheme to target and kill American and coalition forces in Afghanistan are inexcusable. Schiff added that Trump’s “affinity” for Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to pose a national security threat.
SCHIFF: "I find it inexplicable in light of these public allegations that POTUS hasn't come before the country & assured people that he'll get to the bottom of whether Russians are putting bounties on the heads of troops, & he'll do everything in his power to protect US troops." pic.twitter.com/r8nsDtEpri
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 30, 2020
“There may be a reluctance to brief the President on things he doesn’t want to hear and that may be more true with respect to Putin and Putin’s Russia than with respect to any other subject matter,” Schiff said in a press conference after a White House briefing on the issue Tuesday. “Many of us do not understand his affinity for that autocratic ruler who means our nation ill.”
The White House has repeatedly denied that Trump was ever personally briefed on the Russian bounty intelligence, as the President swore ignorance on the matter in tweets on Sunday. Trump initially claimed that he had not been briefed, and then that the findings, which were first publicly reported by The New York Times, were not “credible.”
Schiff rebuked Trump for his unwillingness to come forward amid public allegations that Russian operatives are putting a bounty on the heads of American troops. “His responsibility as commander-in-chief is to protect our troops,” Schiff said.
“The president of the United States should not be inviting Russia into the G7 or G8. We should be considering what sanctions are appropriate to further deter Russia’s malign activities,” the congressman said.
Schiff’s remarks weighing sanctions follow growing evidence that Trump was briefed in writing in late February regarding a Russian bounty plot to reward Taliban-linked militants for killing U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The Kremlin has denied the veracity of the allegations calling them “lies,” according to “PBS News Hour.”
Schiff also said that he had requested intelligence agencies to brief his committee on the issue.
The alleged Russian bribery scheme would suggest Russia’s burgeoning ties with the Taliban, an assessment made in 2018 by then-U.S. Commander Gen. John Nicholson.