Trump's deference to Putin under scrutiny over bounty reports

President Trump’s deference to Vladimir Putin is again below the microscope amid accusations that he ignored intelligence that Russia provided to pay Taliban militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Democrats getting back from a categorized briefing on the White Home on Tuesday pledged to analyze whether or not the president was conscious of the intelligence and why he hasn’t retaliated towards Moscow.

“The president known as this a hoax, publicly,” mentioned Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), the Home majority chief. “Nothing within the briefing that we’ve got simply acquired led me to imagine it’s a hoax.”

Trump tweeted two days earlier that stories of Russian bounties could possibly be “one other fabricated Russia Hoax” and claimed that intelligence officers “didn’t discover this information credible, and subsequently didn’t report it to me.”

The president has mentioned nothing vital of Moscow or indicated that he would take new steps to guard troops serving in Afghanistan, the place he’s targeted on withdrawing U.S. forces after almost 20 years of battle.

The New York Times reported Monday that details about Russian bounties had been included in February within the presidential each day temporary, a high secret abstract of the nation’s intelligence. The Associated Press reported that intelligence on the subject started circulating within the White Home final yr.

Joe Biden, the previous vp and Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent on this yr’s election, mentioned it was “a dereliction of responsibility” if Trump refused to learn his intelligence report or did not take motion if he was briefed on the difficulty.

“This president talks about cognitive functionality. He doesn’t appear to be cognitively conscious of what’s happening,” Biden mentioned throughout an look in Wilmington, Del.

U.S. spies and analysts are reportedly analyzing whether or not Russian funds might be tied to the demise of any U.S. troops, with the deaths of three Marines killed by a automotive bomb on April 8, 2019, being a fundamental focus. Moscow has denied any position.

“I discover it inexplicable in mild of those very public allegations that the president hasn’t come earlier than the nation and warranted the American those that he’ll unravel whether or not Russians are placing a bounty on the heads of American troops, and that he’ll do every thing in his energy to guarantee that we defend American troops,” mentioned Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), chair of the Home Intelligence Committee.

Trump’s refusal to confront Putin continues a sample of submissive conduct towards the autocratic Russian chief. Trump welcomed Moscow’s interference in his profitable marketing campaign for the presidency, then sought to restrict the next investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III.

And Trump withheld navy help for Ukraine, which is battling Russian aggression, as he tried to power the Japanese European nation to analyze his political enemies, together with Biden.

Republicans didn’t criticize Trump instantly, however they expressed concern in regards to the intelligence collected on Russian bounties.

“I need to be completely clear that America’s adversaries ought to know, and they need to have little question, that any focusing on of U.S. forces — by Russians, by anybody else — will face a really swift and lethal response,” mentioned Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).

Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) mentioned Russia ought to “completely not” be allowed again into the Group of Seven main industrial nations, an concept floated by Trump. Moscow was booted after its invasion of Crimea six years in the past.

The newest controversy threatens to exacerbate the partisan divide over intelligence points that has widened since Trump’s election. Though there’s a bipartisan custom of holding joint briefings, administration officers met with Republicans on Monday and Democrats on Tuesday.

Mike Rogers, a former Republican congressman from Michigan who chaired the Home Intelligence Committee, mentioned the separation was “unlucky” as a result of “you need everyone to listen to the identical factor.”

Holding separate classes raises the query, “Are they crafting a message? Or are they getting a briefing?” he mentioned.

Administration officers have reserved their harshest condemnation for the media and their nameless sources. Robert O’Brien, Trump’s nationwide safety advisor, mentioned late Monday evening that officers who leak categorized data “betray the belief of the individuals of the US.”

He additionally claimed that the allegations concerning Russian bounties “haven’t been verified or substantiated,” and Trump “had not been briefed on the gadgets.”

Officers look like drawing a distinction between a verbal briefing and inclusion within the president’s each day temporary. Trump is extensively identified to keep away from studying the doc, which has alarmed nationwide safety consultants who worry the president’s ignorance is leaving the nation susceptible. He additionally meets with intelligence officers for briefings much less usually than his predecessors.

“A president who neither reads the PDB nor takes each day in-person briefings on its content material is sort of a wrestler who places on a blindfold and earmuffs earlier than a match,” tweeted David Priess, a former CIA official who wrote a e book about how presidents obtain intelligence.

Schiff mentioned together with intelligence about Russian bounties in Trump’s written briefing is not any excuse to keep away from instantly confronting the president with the data.

Administration officers could also be reluctant “to temporary the president on issues he doesn’t need to hear, and that could be extra true with respect to Putin and Putin’s Russia than with respect to some other subject material,” Schiff mentioned.

“You temporary the president within the method through which she or he receives data. If a president doesn’t learn the briefs,” he mentioned, “it doesn’t work to present him written product and never inform him what’s in it,” Schiff mentioned.

“If he doesn’t learn, he doesn’t learn. They need to know that by now. And if one thing the president must know earlier than he talks to Putin must be shared with him, it must be shared with him within the type that he takes it.”

Studies of Russia-financed violence towards U.S. troops comes as Washington is steadily withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan. Pentagon officers mentioned the variety of troops has been introduced right down to about 8,600 troops, from 12,000, forward of schedule.

On the identical time, U.S. diplomats are working to launch “intra-Afghan” talks as the subsequent step in a peace course of that envisions a task for the Taliban in authorities.

The talks had been supposed to start March 10, however the Taliban and Afghan officers have continued to bicker over prisoner releases and bomb assaults that killed dozens of individuals, principally civilians, in latest weeks. The Taliban blamed these massacres on Al Qaeda.

Underneath the peace deal reached with Washington, the Taliban agreed to disavow Al Qaeda and stop it from harboring inside Afghanistan. However a latest report from the United Nations mentioned the Taliban has not damaged its ties to the terrorist group behind the 9/11 assaults.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Suhail Shaheen, mentioned Tuesday that U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo telephoned the chief Taliban negotiator late Monday to induce an finish to violence, in line with information businesses’ translation of Shaheen’s Twitter feed.

Shaheen mentioned the stories on bounties didn’t come up within the dialog, however he quoted the negotiator, Abdullah Ghani Baradar, as saying, “in line with the settlement, we don’t permit anybody to make use of Afghan soil towards the U.S. and different nations.”

There was no speedy remark from the State Division.

Instances workers writers Tracy Wilkinson, Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper contributed to this report.

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