The White House on Saturday denied that the U.S. President Donald Trump was briefed on reported intelligence that Russia's military offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill American troops in Afghanistan, with Democratic rival and former Vice President Joe Biden criticizing Trump for failing to take action against Kremlin.
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House Press Secretary said in a statement that "neither the president nor the vice president (Mike Pence) were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence." McEnany said the statement did not address the "merit of the alleged intelligence" reported on Friday by the New York Times.
The Bounty Money
A Russian military intelligence unit linked to assassination attempts in Europe offered rewards for successful attacks last year on American and coalition troops, the Times reported. The newspaper reported that Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, were believed to have collected some bounty money.
Trump was told about the intelligence but had not authorized steps to retaliate, the Times reported.
Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate set to challenge Trump in the Nov. 3 election, said during a virtual town hall on Saturday that the Times report, if true, represents a "truly shocking revelation," noting, in particular, Trump's reported failure to retaliate.
"Not only has he failed to sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, but Donald Trump has also continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin," Biden said, referring to the Russian president.
Biden pledged retaliation if he becomes president.
"If I'm elected president, make no mistake about it, Vladimir Putin will be confronted and we'll impose serious costs on Russia," Biden said.