House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wants U.S. intelligence officials to brief the House of Representatives regarding reports that Russia placed bounties on American troops in Afghanistan.
Citing anonymous officials, several news outlets claimed Russians have been paying the Taliban to assassinate U.S.-led coalition troops.
U.S. officials later said the intelligence was suspect and that neither President Donald Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence was briefed on it.
“The President now denies being briefed, but the Administration has not denied the existence of the intelligence,” Pelosi wrote in a June 29 letter (pdf) to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and CIA Director Gina Haspel.
“The questions that arise are: was the President briefed, and if not, why not, and why was Congress not briefed. Congress and the country need answers now.
“I therefore request an interagency brief for all House Members immediately. Congress needs to know what the intelligence community knows about this significant threat to American troops and our allies and what options are available to hold Russia accountable.”
Lawmakers, including some Republicans, have said in recent days they want answers about the intelligence.
“I expect the Trump Administration to take such allegations seriously and inform Congress immediately as to the reliability of these news reports,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wrote on Twitter on June 27.
Trump responded directly to Graham on June 28, writing on Twitter: “Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP.”
Trump said the situation was potentially “another fabricated Russia Hoax,” referring to a myriad of reporters, pundits, and lawmakers who claimed there was evidence his campaign colluded with Russia. Those claims were dismissed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which found no evidence supporting them.
Ratcliffe said in a rare statement on June 27 from the Office of Director of National Intelligence that he confirmed neither Trump nor Pence were ever briefed on the intelligence alleged in news reports.
“The White House statement addressing this issue earlier today, which denied such a briefing occurred, was accurate. The New York Times reporting, and all other subsequent news reports about such an alleged briefing are inaccurate,” he wrote.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on June 29 at the White House that the intelligence wasn’t verified and that Trump wasn’t personally briefed on it.
“There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations,” she said. “The veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.”
Russian officials have denied the report.