Former national security adviser and potential Joe Biden vice presidential pick Susan Rice said Tuesday she believes President Trump “knew and has chosen not to act” on intelligence that Russian officials had paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants in exchange for the deaths of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
“The president does nothing when this information is brought to him, and I believe it was brought to him both in written form and perhaps by one of my successors, John Bolton,” Rice claimed in a Washington Post livestream interview.
“I believe one way or another the president knew and has chosen not to act,” she continued.
But Bolton, who left the national security office in September 2019, has said he would have briefed Trump on the bounties had he known at the time.
“She said she would have walked in and shown it to Obama,” Bolton recently said on CBS News’ “The Takeout.” “I would have done the same if — I hope I would have done the same if I had this kind of information.”
Rice claimed that the intelligence community believes the Russian bounty threat is true or they would not have put it into the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB). It had to be information they had a “good degree of confidence” in, or it would not have made it into The Wire, the CIA’s widely disseminated World Intelligence Review, she said.
Officials told the New York Times the Russian bounty threat was included in a May 4 article in The Wire. The New York Times reported that the intelligence was included in a February PDB.
“President Trump has done nothing, left forces vulnerable and bare,” said the Obama-era adviser. “The message to Vladimir Putin is he can attack Americans anywhere in the world with impunity.”
The White House repeatedly denied that Trump had any prior knowledge of the Russian bounties before the Times’ reporting and insisted that there was “no consensus” on the intelligence.
According to a senior U.S. official, multiple intelligence threat streams indicated Russian intelligence operatives offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops, but while the National Security Council met recently to come up with a number of responses to the report, it did not brief President Trump.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien claimed that Trump’s CIA briefer made the call not to share the intelligence with him at the time because it was unverified.
“The president was not briefed because, at the time of these allegations, they were uncorroborated,” O’Brien said, noting that the Pentagon also has said the intelligence was uncorroborated.
“The intelligence community doesn’t have a consensus,” O’Brien continued. “And as a result, the president’s career CIA briefer decided not to brief him because it was unverified intelligence.”
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