Top Democrats in the House of Representatives visited the White House Tuesday morning for a briefing on the alleged rewards Russia gave to US soldiers in Afghanistan, and who in the White House knew about intelligence and when.
The delegation was led by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. and also included the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., among others. Hoyer demanded a briefing on Monday for all members of the House on the matter.
"President Truman used to have a plaque on his desk that said 'The money stops here'. President Trump's approach seems to be, dangerously, as he said before," I am not responsible for Absolute & # 39; "Hoyer said in a statement. "Over the weekend, we learned of allegations that our intelligence services evaluated in March that Russia had been offering a monetary reward for killing US troops in Afghanistan. Outrageously, President Trump appears to have taken no action from that moment, he did not even warn the Russian government to stop. "
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The majority leader added: "While I will be going to the White House tomorrow for a briefing with several House Democrats, the President and his team should inform the full House of this dire situation immediately."
Eight House Republicans were briefed Monday at the White House, including Republican Conference Speaker Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyo., Who demanded answers over the weekend about the bounty scandal. He released a joint statement with Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the highest-ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.
"After today's briefing with senior White House officials, we remain concerned about Russian activity in Afghanistan, including reports that they have attacked US forces. It has been clear for some time that Russia does not wish us well in Afghanistan. We believe it is important to vigorously pursue any information related to Russia or any other country targeting our forces, "the senior Republicans said. "We anticipate more briefings on the subject in the coming days."
The White House has denied that Trump has been briefed on the matter despite reporting to the contrary from media such as the New York Times, which reported Monday night that the subject of the reward was in the President's Daily Report written earlier in the day. of this year. However, it has been widely reported that Trump does not read the detailed summary regularly, and is more often verbally briefed on intelligence issues.
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The Associated Press further reported that senior White House officials knew in early 2019 that intelligence suggested Russia was offering the rewards to the Taliban. This, authorities told the AP, was in at least one of Trump's written reports at the time.
But a senior administration official told Fox News on Monday that the president was not informed due to lack of clarity about the reward allegations.
"POTUS was never informed on this issue because there is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations," the official said.
A spokesman for the National Security Council further said that "(l) the veracity of the underlying allegations continues to be evaluated." And National Security Adviser Robert O & # 39; Brien said in a statement that "(b) because the allegations in recent press articles have not been verified or substantiated by the Intelligence Community, President Trump has not been informed However, the Administration included the personnel of the National Security Council, it has been preparing if the situation warrants action. "
A senior US official who was briefed on the matter told Fox News that "several disturbing intelligence sources", some contradictory, have prompted the NSC to discuss options on Russian actions in Afghanistan. "
And the Defense Department, through Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman, said "to date, the DOD has no evidence to substantiate the valuable allegations found in open source reports."
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It is unclear whether denials that the President has been informed means that intelligence never appeared in the President's Daily Report or that the matter was never personally presented to the President, and that the apparently contradictory information made public has clouded the issue. How Sure The Government Is That Russia Has Rewarded US Troops In Afghanistan. The White House has also denied that the matter was brought up to Vice President Pence.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, was not one of the Democrats who attended Tuesday morning's briefing at the White House, but on Monday she said she spoke to the director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel, on the reward. Allegations Pelosi did not say in a statement what he was told, but said he asked leaders of the intelligence community "to follow up on my formal request for a full House briefing on intelligence surrounding Russian rewards."
Pelosi added: "Many serious questions remain about what the White House is doing to confront threats to US and allied troops and to hold Russia accountable."
The other House Democrats involved in Tuesday's briefing are the chair of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, D-Wash., And representatives Gregory Meeks, DN.Y., Brad Sherman, D -Calif., Bill Keating, D-Mass., Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., And Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich.
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Smith also released a statement Monday asking why Trump would not have known if the intelligence community had indications that Russia was giving rewards to US soldiers.
"However, President Trump claims he had no prior knowledge of the rewards Russia imposed on US soldiers. That excuse only raises more questions," he said. "Why did the President not receive a briefing on such a sensitive issue? Was this information included in the Presidential Briefing? If not, why not? Was this information shared with our military leaders?"
Fox News' Chad Pergram, Jennifer Griffin and Gillian Turner contributed to this report,