Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has vowed to investigate reports that Russia offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill American soldiers, saying that leaking any classified data regarding the matter will be considered a crime.
In a statement released late Monday evening, Mr. Ratcliffe, who was confirmed to his new role last month, said that the “selective leaking of any classified information disrupts the vital interagency work to collect, assess and mitigate threats and places our forces at risk.”
The New York Times reported late last week that U.S. intelligence concluded months ago that Russian military intelligence agents had offered the bounties to militants linked to the Taliban. The paper said President Trump was briefed on the matter, and that the National Security Council held a meeting about it in late March.
Mr. Trump has since insisted neither he, the vice president nor chief of staff were briefed on the report.
Mr. Ratcliffe said his agency is still investigating the reports and promised to brief Mr. Trump and congressional leaders “at the appropriate time.”
The former Republican congressman from Texas said the potential leak is “also, simply put, a crime.”
Republican lawmakers were summoned to the White House Monday afternoon for a briefing on the matter, while top Democratic lawmakers received their briefing Tuesday morning.
“This is the analytic process working the way it should,” Mr. Ratcliffe said. “Unfortunately, unauthorized disclosures now jeopardize our ability to ever find out the full story with respect to these allegations.”
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