A career CIA officer decided not to brief President Donald Trump about intelligence speculation that Russia was paying bounties for deaths of US troops in Afghanistan, his national security adviser Robert O’Brien has revealed.
“She made that decision because she didn’t have the confidence in the intelligence that came up,” O’Brien told reporters on Wednesday. “She made that call and you know what? She made the right call. And knowing the facts I know now, I stand behind that call,” he added.
The New York Times published a story last week, sourced to anonymous intelligence officials, claiming that the “assessment” about the bounties was briefed to Trump in March, later changing that to a February written brief.
The White House has denied it outright. Trump himself denounced it as “just another made up by Fake News tale” and “another HOAX!”
“This was something that never got presented to me … because it didn’t rise to that level,” Trump told Fox Business in an interview aired Wednesday. “Many of the intelligence people didn’t think it was something that even happened.”
Democrat lawmakers have suggested that it was a political appointee who may have withheld the intelligence from the president, but O’Brien’s comments make it clear it was a career CIA official that made the decision.
The leak to the Times has been referred to the Justice Department, the adviser added, because the revelation has now made it “almost impossible for us to find out what happened.”
it upon themselves in an effort to attack the president or to maybe promote some policy agenda to leak allegations that now make it almost impossible for us to find out what happened, and that’s really a shame.” @CBSNews
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) July 1, 2020
The Taliban have denied they were ever paid or offered bounties to kill US or coalition troops in Afghanistan. Moscow has likewise rejected the accusations as fantasies, noting that they seemed aimed at derailing the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as well as weaponized for the purposes of internal US politics.
The White House has referred to the Times reporting as “unverified intelligence that is currently being assessed.” Directors of the CIA and NSA are expected to brief the ‘Gang of Eight’ congressional leaders about the alleged bounties on Thursday.
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