White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday claimed President Donald Trump has still not been briefed about a bombshell report by the New York Times that a Russian military intelligence unit was secretly offering bounties to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan for killing American troops amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there.
McEnany told reporters there is still “no consensus” in the intelligence community, but said the Times’ claim that Trump knew about it was “erroneously reported.”
The Times’ report, which was published on Friday, said that Trump was notified about Russian bounty campaign to the Taliban in late March, but has still yet to confront the Russians about targeting U.S. soldiers.
The Washington Post reported that the Russian bounties could have resulted in the “death of several U.S. service members.”
In a White House press briefing Monday, Reuters Jeff Mason asked, “Does the president have a specific message for Moscow given these reports?”
“No, because he has not been briefed on the matter,” McEnany responded. “There is no consensus among the intelligence committee community and there are in fact dissenting opinions.”
The story came on Friday. It is now Monday. There is absolutely zero excuse for this.
Donald Trump has time to golf, but not be briefed on matters of national security. https://t.co/MuWPBvsgd1
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) June 29, 2020
Over the past two days, Trump has attacked the Times report as “fake news” and “another phony hit job” on Twitter.
“I am pointing you back to the fact that there is no consensus within the intelligence community,” McEnany said later in the briefing. “I would also note that for those of you always taking The New York Times at their word, they erroneously reported that the president was briefed on this. He was not briefed on this and neither was the vice president.”
“Before buying into a full-fledged narrative from The New York Times that falsely stated something about the president, that you would wait for the facts to come out and note once again that there is no consensus in the intelligence community and there are dissenting opinions from some within it,” she concluded.
President Trump visited his private golf course in Virginia Saturday, just one day after saying he had cancelled a weekend trip to his New Jersey golf club so he could stay in Washington, D.C. to “make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.”