President Donald Trump on Tuesday came under growing pressure to respond to allegations that Russia offered bounties for killing American troops in Afghanistan, with Democrats demanding answers and accusing Trump of bowing to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the risk of U.S. soldiers' lives.
The intelligence assessments were first reported by The New York Times, then confirmed to The Associated Press by American intelligence officials and others with knowledge of the matter.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and a small group of other House Democrats met with White House officials as Trump downplayed the allegations and aides said he had not been briefed on them. The Democrats questioned why Trump wouldn't have been briefed and pushed White House officials to have the president make a strong statement about the matter.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, one of the Democrats who attended the briefing, said it was “inexplicable” why Trump won’t say publicly that he is working to get to the bottom of the issue and why he won’t call out Putin. He said Trump’s defense that he hasn’t been briefed is inexcusable.
“Many of us do not understand his affinity for that autocratic ruler who means our nation ill,” Schiff said.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., a freshman and former Navy helicopter pilot and Russia policy officer, said White House chief of staff Mark Meadows briefed the group. She said the Democrats told the White House briefers that the president should make a statement.
“These are very concerning allegations and if they’re true, Russia is going to face repercussions,” Sherrill said. "We really pushed that strongly in the meeting.”
She wouldn’t say how the White House officials reacted or say if the briefers told the Democrats that in fact Trump was briefed. Source: AP