Calls from Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill are growing for the intelligence community to brief lawmakers on reports that Russian agents offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill U.S. soldiers.
In a letter to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded information specifically on whether President Trump was briefed on the reports and why Congress was not.
“Congress and the country need answers now,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said in a statement Monday. “I therefore request an interagency brief for all House Members immediately.
“Congress needs to know what the intelligence community knows about this significant threat to American troops and our allies and what options are available to hold Russia accountable,” Mrs. Pelosi said.
The New York Times reported Friday that U.S. intelligence concluded in March that Russian military intelligence agents had offered the bounties to militants linked to the Taliban. The paper said Mr. Trump was briefed on the matter and that the National Security Council held a meeting about it in late March.
Mr. Trump has since declared that “nobody briefed or told” him, Vice President Mike Pence or White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows “about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an ‘anonymous source’ by the Fake News @nytimes.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, New York Democrat, also called for an all-Senate briefing from the two top intelligence officials.
“I’m calling for the Directors of National Intelligence and the CIA to immediately brief all 100 Senators on reports that Russia placed bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan,” he said in a statement. “We need to know whether or not President Trump was told this information, and if so, when.”
Trump administration officials have also denied that the president was told of bounties.
Four U.S. soldiers have been killed in combat in Afghanistan this year.
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