Defense Secretary Mark Esper testified on Thursday that he had no recollection of receiving any briefings that “included the word bounty,” amid experiences claiming Russia provided bounties to Afghan militants for killing U.S. troopers.
During a listening to earlier than the House Armed Services Committee, Esper was requested about the experiences.
“To the best of my recollection, I have not received a briefing that included the word bounty,” Esper stated.
Esper was then requested the place the intelligence on Russian bounties got here from, to which he replied: “It was not produced by a DoD intelligence agency.”
The New York Times first reported that Moscow allegedly provided bounties to Afghan militants to kill U.S. troopers final month. Fox News additionally reported final month that a number of intelligence risk streams indicated Russian intelligence operatives provided bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops.
The Washington Post additional reported that the Russian bounties are “believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members.” And The Associated Press reported that officers stated an April 2019 assault on an American convoy that killed three Marines in Afghanistan is below investigation.
But the White House has insisted there was “no consensus” that the intelligence that Russia provided bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops was correct, which is why, it stated, the challenge was by no means flagged to President Trump or Vice President Pence.
The White House has denied that Trump was briefed on the challenge regardless of reporting to the opposite from shops like the New York Times, which reported late Monday that the bounty challenge was in the written President’s Daily Brief earlier this yr. It has been extensively reported, nonetheless, that Trump does not learn the detailed transient recurrently and is extra usually briefed on intelligence points verbally.
Meanwhile, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien final week claimed that Trump’s CIA briefer made the name not to share with him the intelligence referencing Russia allegedly providing bounties to Afghan militants for killing U.S. troopers.
“The president was not briefed because, at the time of these allegations, they were uncorroborated,” O’Brien stated, noting that the Pentagon additionally has stated the intelligence was uncorroborated.
“The intelligence community doesn’t have a consensus,” O’Brien continued. “And as a result, the president’s career CIA briefer decided not to brief him because it was unverified intelligence.”
The CIA briefer O’Brien was referring to would have been Beth Sanner, who was the president’s major intelligence briefer throughout the time in query when the Russia bounty intelligence emerged. Sanner was appointed as the deputy director of National Intelligence for Mission Integration final yr. Sanner had been main the president’s each day intelligence briefing since April 2017.
O’Brien defended Sanner as “an outstanding officer.”
“Knowing all the facts I know, I certainly support her decision,” O’Brien stated Wednesday.
But sources aware of the president’s intelligence briefings instructed Fox News that the “daily briefer,” as Sanner was recognized, does not have the authority to take away an merchandise from the intelligence transient with out approval from a extra senior official. The sources prompt that, in this case, the CIA director, the director of nationwide intelligence or O’Brien would have been the officers who wanted to approve the removing.
A senior U.S. official who had been briefed on the matter instructed Fox News earlier final week that the info that the National Security Council had received was based mostly on “several streams of intelligence of concern” with a few of it being contradictory and a few open to interpretation.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson, Jennifer Griffin, Gillian Turner and the Associated Press contributed to this report.