Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice blasted President Trump’s claims that he was never briefed about reports that Russian intelligence operatives offer bounties to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan for the killing of U.S. troops.
Rice, who is believed to be on the shortlist as a possible running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, expressed incredulity that Trump said he was never brief on the Russian bounties and criticized the president for allegedly not reading the daily intelligence briefings he is given.
“I don’t buy this story that he was never briefed,” Rice said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “I believe that over a year ago, when the information first came to light in 2019, that my successor, John Bolton, would have walked straight into the Oval Office, as I would have, and informed the president of this intelligence.”
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Rice added: “We have credible information that suggests that the Russians and maybe Putin himself are trying to kill American service members, and the president calls it a hoax.”
Trump has been under increasing pressure to provide answers about the U.S. response to Russia or the lack of one. But the president has continued to downplay the intelligence, calling it a “hoax” and “fake news” designed to damage him and the Republican Party.
The White House has insisted that Trump wasn’t briefed on the assessments because they hadn’t been verified, even though it’s rare for intelligence to be confirmed without a shadow of a doubt before it is presented to senior government decision-makers.
News that Moscow allegedly offered bounties to Afghan militants who killed U.S. soldiers was first reported last weekend in the New York Times.
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The Washington Post further reported that the Russian bounties are “believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members.” Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that officials said an April 2019 attack on an American convoy that killed three Marines in Afghanistan is under investigation.
On the topic of her potentially being Biden’s running mate, Rice said she didn’t want to speculate and that, at the moment, her focus was on getting the former vice president elected in November.
“Whether I’m his running mate or I’m a door knocker, I don’t mind. I just want to get Joe Biden elected and see the Democrats control the Senate and retain the House,” Rice said. “Because, Andrea, we are at a moment where our democracy is at stake, where our leadership role in the world is at stake, where the lives of tens of thousands of Americans are on the line, lost to incompetence and callous leadership that could care less. We’ve got to change that.”