Rep. Jim Banks: Russian rewards to Taliban history may be putting US life at risk.

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Fighting to revive the Russian collusive narrative ahead of the 2020 election, the New York Times may have endangered the lives of our troops and compromised American national security by reporting unconfirmed information.

This story is very important to me, it is personal. I am angry that the friends I served with in Afghanistan may have had a target behind them. I did over 50 off-network vehicle convoy missions when I served in 2014-15 – there may have been a reward in my head.

So how do we know that the Russians were paying rewards to Taliban fighters for killing American troops? We do not.

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The Taliban said the Russians did not pay them. The Russian government says they were not handing out rewards. It may not even have been the Russians: Iran has often targeted our troops in that region.

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We don't know who is telling the truth, and now we may never know. If Russia was putting rewards on the heads of American troops, they are destroying every piece of evidence that happened as we speak. All because the breathless critics of President Trump in the media decided to insert themselves and interrupt the efforts of the intelligence community.

I serve on the House Armed Services Committee, so I closely follow the Russian threat. We also closely follow the threat from China and the threat from Iran, as well as a dozen other areas of interest to American national security. I desperately want to know about the evil activity of our adversary in Afghanistan and in every inch of the world. If our troops are in danger, members of the House Armed Services Committee should know that.

We trust the intelligence community to do its job and research intelligence for us. There are many rumors circulating around the world. If we act on all of them, it would be reckless. This is why we are patient and require hard intelligence confirmed by the intelligence community before acting.

As an American and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, I dislike that Trump's detractors endanger the lives of Americans just by trying to earn political points before the 2020 election.

Now the hands of the intelligence community are tied. They cannot follow this intelligence and learn more about the Russian operation in Afghanistan, which leaves our troops stationed there in danger. Worse yet, everyone from National Security Advisor Robert O & # 39; Brien to Central Intelligence Agency Gina Haspel now has to focus all their attention on explaining the nuances of our national security processes to the media.

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And for what? The real irony: nobody believes in this deception anymore. The Russian collusive narrative has dissipated over and over again. The House and Senate intelligence committees said there was no evidence of collusion. The intelligence community said there was no collusion. Bob Mueller said there was no collusion.

Politically speaking, I am glad that the Democrats have chosen to reinvent the Russian collusion conspiracy theory. Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., And Representative Ted Lieu, D-Calif., They look foolish trying to provoke outrage at this story.

No one is buying that President Trump, who spent his first four years rebuilding an army that Barack Obama ruined, giving our veterans the care they deserve, and upholding a "United States First" foreign policy, would sacrifice our troops to be more welcoming. with Vladimir Putin. In fact, no one has been harder on the Russians than Trump! If we had verified this intelligence, we can count on the president holding Russia accountable as he has done since his presidency began.

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But as an American and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, I dislike that Trump's detractors endanger the lives of Americans just by trying to earn political points ahead of the 2020 election.

No doubt Russia is sitting smugly and watching the Democrats do their work for them. Russia wins when we are divided. In 2016, they used Facebook ads to generate outrage and pit Americans against each other. In 2020, thanks to the New York Times, Russia will receive another platform to interfere in these elections. This is the real scandal, and anyone serious about stopping Russia's evil activities in the United States will help us stop it.

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