WASHINGTON (AP) – Eight Republican lawmakers attended a White House briefing about explosive allegations that Russia secretly offered bounties to Taleban-linked militants for killing American troops in Afghanistan – intelligence the White House insisted the president himself had not been fully read in on.
Members of Congress in both parties called for additional information and consequences for Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, and eight Democrats were briefed on the matter yesterday morning, a day after the Republicans’ briefing.
Still, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany insisted Trump had not been briefed on the findings because they hadn’t been verified.
The White House seemed to be setting an unusually high bar for bringing the information to Trump, since it is rare for intelligence to be confirmed without a shadow of doubt before it is presented to senior government decision-makers. McEnany declined to say why a different standard of confidence in the intelligence applied to briefing lawmakers than bringing the information to the president.
Republicans who were in the briefing on Monday expressed alarm about Russia’s activities in Afghanistan.
Rep Michael McCaul, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep Adam Kinzinger were in the briefing led by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. McCaul and Kinzinger said in a statement that lawmakers were told “there is an ongoing review to determine the accuracy of these reports.”
“If the intelligence review process verifies the reports, we strongly encourage the Administration to take swift and serious action to hold the Putin regime accountable,” they said.