Former national security adviser Susan Rice on Sunday slammed President Trump for claiming that he was never briefed on the intelligence suggesting Russia paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
In the past week, Trump has downplayed the Russia bounty plot allegations in tweets by saying that it’s “possibly another fabricated Russia hoax” and that he was “never briefed because any info that they may have had did not rise to that level.” Last week, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also denied that the President was briefed on the matter during a press conference.
During an interview on MSNBC, Rice was pressed on her thoughts regarding the President referring to reports on the Russia bounty plot as a “hoax.”
Rice argued that it sends a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he “can kill American servicemen and women with absolute impunity.”
“This is an extraordinary revelation. The President of the United States has demonstrated absolutely callous disregard for the safety and security of American forces in a war zone and there’s no explanation for this,” Rice said, before questioning why Trump has not offered reassurance to the public that he “will get to the bottom of this intelligence.”
Rice then said that she does not “buy this story that he was never briefed” because her successor John Bolton “would have walked straight into the Oval Office” like she would have and “informed the President of this intelligence.”
According to an Associated Press report, Trump was briefed on the intelligence by Bolton in March 2019. Intelligence on the Russia bounty plot was also reportedly in the President’s written daily briefing in late February this year. The President
Rice went on to say that as national security adviser “you don’t wait until you have 100% certainty” but instead “you tell the commander-in-chief what he needs to know when he needs to know it.”
“And so now they’re claiming, well he wasn’t told. Well, if that’s the case, then maybe these advisers in 2020 when the information came back again failed to tell him,” Rice said.
Rice added that she “wouldn’t doubt that” because Trump’s advisers are “scared of him.”
“But the point is our servicemen and women are in a war zone vulnerable,” Rice said. “We have credible information that suggests that the Russians and maybe Putin himself are trying to kill American service members and the President calls it a hoax.”
Watch Rice’s remarks below:
Former national security adviser Susan Rice: "I don't buy this story that (President Trump) was never briefed" on Russia bounty plot pic.twitter.com/bCCFcQYBWo
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) July 5, 2020