Conflicting White House statements on Russian bounties on U.S. troops

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Advisors from the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade observe an Afghan-led operation during their 2019 deployment to Afghanistan. (Maj. Jonathan Camire/Army)

Party officials on both sides of the aisle are demanding answers after the revelation came last week that the U.S. intelligence community is investigating bounties placed on U.S. troops by Russian operatives.

Intelligence now under the purvey of the CIA, asserts that a Russian spy unit offered bounties to enlisted Taliban-linked fighters in Afghanistan on U.S. troops.

The New York Times broke the story on Friday with the Washington Post following suit soon after. Both reports cite information given to them by high ranking officials in the intelligence community.

This report comes after extensive conversations between the U.S., Russia, China, and Pakistan to negotiate peace in the region. It also comes after the U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban and promised to withdraw U.S. Troops from the region.

In spite of the breaking news, reports suggest that the military was trying to warn the U.S. government and the general public about the bounties as early as March 2018.

At first, President Trump denied any knowledge of the bounties then he doubled back claiming that intel was given to him, but that the intelligence community deemed the information as “not credible.”

“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP,” Trump said in a tweet.

In addition, he repeated his familiar adage that such reports are “possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax” spread by the “Fake News … wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!”

When Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was questioned by the press about the new information she asserted that the information was “not verified.”

“Not verified,” according to an analysis by the Washington Post’s senior political reporter Aaron Blake, is a bit different from being “not credible”.

McEnany added that a House briefing for select members of Congress would be held and declined to answer a direct question regarding the protocols for briefing the president vs. briefing Congress.

The meeting, held on Monday, was attended by eight high ranking Republican officials, sources say Democrats were invited but chose not to attend. Another briefing on Tuesday will be held to brief top Democrats.

Party Leader Nancy Pelosi addressed the allegations in an interview with ABC news, implying directly that Russia has something over Trump that is making him reluctant to act against their interests. “There is something very wrong here, But this must have an answer.”