Last week, the New York Times published a report claiming that “a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops,” and that President Trump has done nothing about it despite being briefed on it in March.
Democrats, true to form, expressed more outrage at Trump for allegedly ignoring the intel than they did at Russia, but that’s par for the course. Since the report has come out it has become apparent that the New York Times’ claims are likely not true and Democrats jumped the gun by attacking Trump.
For starters, John Ratcliffe, the Director of National Intelligence, quickly debunked the story. “I have confirmed that neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence alleged by the New York Times in its reporting yesterday,” he tweeted. “The White House statement addressing this issue earlier today, which denied such a briefing occurred, was accurate. The New York Times reporting, and all other subsequent news reports about such an alleged briefing are inaccurate.”
Former acting-DNI Richard Grenell was called out by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) for allegedly not telling Trump or Pence about the allegations, but Grenell put Lieu in his place. “I never heard this,” Grenell explained. “And it’s disgusting how you continue to politicize intelligence. You clearly don’t understand how raw intel gets verified. Leaks of partial information to reporters from anonymous sources is dangerous because people like you manipulate it for political gain.”
That didn’t exactly satisfy Lieu, but Grenell shot back again in epic fashion.
All anonymous sources. And these same reporters gave us the Russian collusion hoax you still hold on to. https://t.co/9o4d0HlIXq
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) June 28, 2020
But, you don’t have to rely on just Richard Grenell and John Ratcliffe. Other sources in the military and intelligence communities have confirmed that Trump and Pence were not briefed.
The Pentagon released a statement confirming this:
JUST IN: Statement from the Pentagon on the intelligence that Russian GRU operatives had offered bounties for US troops in Afghanistan:
“To date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports.” pic.twitter.com/Q1rOjtgQXc
— Kristina Wong 🇺🇸 (@kristina_wong) June 30, 2020
As did National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien:
— NSC (@WHNSC) June 30, 2020
Catherine Herridge, a senior investigative reporter for CBS News, also reported that a “senior intel official” told her the “the GRU/Taliban bounty allegations were not contained in the President’s Daily Brief (PDB).”
Herridge also stated that the NSC official “confirmed the NSC has been doing ‘due diligence,’ and going back through their files since the story broke Friday, and they have not found the ‘intelligence assessment’ described in media reporting.”
Herridge added that an “intelligence official with direct knowledge” said intel on alleged Russian bounties only reached “low levels” of the NSC but “did not go further” because it was deemed “uncorroborated” and because of “dissent” within the intelligence community.
This story is clearly as bogus as claims that President George W. Bush had failed to respond to intelligence in an August 2001 PDB titled “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US.” After the Democrats claimed Bush had direct knowledge that 9/11 was about to happen, but the PDB, Condeleeza Rice noted, was “historical information based on old reporting.” She added, “There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.”
That didn’t stop Democrats then from claiming Bush had been warned that 9/11 was coming and ignored it, nor will the Democrats care that Trump wasn’t briefed about the alleged Russian bounties because the intel was uncorroborated. They will continue to pretend that Trump ignored a warning and put our troops at risk. Why? Because it’s an election year and they’ll do anything, even push a lie, to defeat him.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis