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Bolton: Trump claims he didn't know of Russia bounty is not 'reality'

by Wilbur Westall (2020-07-09)

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John Bolton claimed Sunday morning that Donald Trump denying a report claiming he knew Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S.
troops is 'unconnected to the reality,' but asserts this is the standard for the president. 

'There's a lot we don't know so we should be cautious, but from what we do know from the president's own tweets this morning, to me it looks like just another day at the office in the Trump White House,' Bolton told NBC News' Meet the Press.

The former national security adviser is on a media tour đài loan promoting his new book, 'The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir,' about his 17 months as one of Trump's top aides.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded that Trump confront the Russians, telling ABC News on Sunday that his denial of the report is 'as bad as it gets.'

'This is as bad as it gets and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score - denies being briefed, whether he is or not, his administration knows,' Pelosi told This Week host George Stephenopoulos.

'Some of our allies who work with us in Afghanistan have been briefed and accept this report.'

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton claimed Sunday that Donald Trump denying the report that he knew Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S.

troops is 'just another day at the office in the Trump White House'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also said Sunday that Trump's denial is 'as bad as it gets'

The comments came after a pair of tweets Sunday where the president claimed the Times report was fake, and said he was not briefed on the situation in March, like it details

The California Democrat also said that allies she and her colleagues have worked with in Afghanistan were briefed and accept The New York Times report.

'Just as I've said to the president, with him all roads lead to Putin,' Pelosi told This Week host George Stephenopoulos.

'I don't know what the Russians have on the president, politically, personally, financially or whatever it is.'

Bolton said that if the reports are true, the U.S. should 'consider a number of strong measures against Russia.' 

Trump insisted in a sunday morning tweet that 'nobody told him' that Russia had reportedly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants if they killed U.S.

soldiers in Afghanistan.

In a series of tweets Sunday morning, the president scathed: 'Nobody briefed or told me, VP Pence, or 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 New York Times.'

'Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us.....' Trump continued.

The president's comments follow a report from the Times that he was briefed in March about the apparent Moscow led murder-for-hire plot, tour đài loan từ hà nội but has yet failed to take action against it.

Bolton admitted to CNN's Jake Tapper that while he doesn't know about this specific situation detailed in the report, it sounded to him like an effort form the president to shift the responsibility away from himself.

'What would motivate the president to do that?

Because it looks bad if Russians are paying to kill Americans and we're not doing anything about it,' Bolton said. 'So what is the presidential reaction, is to say, 'it's not my responsibility, nobody told me about it.' And therefore to duck any complaints that he hasn't acted effectively.'

'This is part of the problem with President Trump's decision making in the national security space, it's just unconnected to the reality he's dealing with, it's about his personal position,' Bolton told the State of the Union host.

The president demanded the Times out the source from whom the newspaper obtained the information - claiming otherwise, it's likely the source was made up.

'The Fake News @ nytimes must reveal its 'anonymous' source,' the president asserted.

'Bet they can't do it, this 'person' probably does not even exist!'

In a rebuke of the claims made in the report, Trump affirmed that 'nobody has been tougher on Russia' than his administration, continuing that 'with Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine.

'Where's Hunter?' the president asked.

'Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their 'source'?'

In rebuke, Trump affirmed that 'nobody has been tougher on Russia' than his administration, continuing that 'with Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine 

On Saturday, Democratic nominee Joe Biden accused Trump of betraying American families.

He called the revelation of alleged inaction on the part of Trump 'shocking' as he claimed that Trump's 'entire presidency has been a gift to Putin'.

In response, in another tweet Sunday morning, the president mused how it was 'funny' to hear Biden's admonishment which was 'obviously written by his handlers'. 

'Russia ate his and Obama's lunch during their time in office, so badly that Obama wanted them out of the then G-8.

U.S. was weak on everything, but especially Russia!' Trump continued.

Biden's criticism came just before the White House vehemently denied that Trump had been briefed on the intelligence, as was reported in the Friday.  

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany fiercely refuted that the president had known of the plot for months, stating that 'neither the president nor the vice president were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence'.

But she added: 'This does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of The New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter.' 

That left open the possibility such intelligence does exist.

'The United States receives thousands of intelligence reports a day and they are subject to strict scrutiny,' said McEnany's statement.

'While the White House does not routinely comment on alleged intelligence or internal deliberations, the CIA director, National Security Advisor, and the Chief of Staff can all confirm that neither the President nor the Vice President were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence.'

Biden, however, took the opportunity to blast Trump on the report as he spoke at a town hall on Saturday afternoon.   

He said that, if true, it contains a 'truly shocking revelation' about the commander in chief and his failure to protect U.S.

troops in Afghanistan and stand up to Russia.  

Joe Biden accused President Donald Trump of betraying American families Saturday after a New York Times report claimed the president had for months failed to act on intelligence of Russian bounties offered to the Taliban to kill U.S.

troops in Afghanistan

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany fiercely denied the president had known of the intelligence but did not say that there was no merit to the report of Russian bounties to Taliban forces

McEnany said Vice President Mike Pence, pictured, had also not been briefed in March

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