Trump denies informing him of intelligence that Russians tried to bribe Taliban fighters to kill US troops

Trump Tweeted that “there were not many attacks” on U.S. troops by Taliban fighters as his proof that the reported intelligence could be “false.” Trump’s tweet went a step further than Saturday’s White House statement.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany on Saturday did not deny the report’s validity, but instead said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were not aware “of Russia’s alleged wealth.”

CNN previously reported that Russian military intelligence officers GRU recently offered money to Taliban militants in Afghanistan as a reward if they killed American or British troops there, a European official said. U.S. intelligence concluded a few months ago that Russian military intelligence offered praise in the midst of peace talks, the Times said in its report.

Trump was informed of the intelligence findings, and the White House National Security Council held a meeting about it in late March, the Times writes, citing officials informed about the issue.

A European intelligence official was vague in comments to CNN regarding Russia’s precise motivation for attempting bribes, but said incentives, according to their assessment, had led to the coalition’s downfall. The official did not specify the date of the victims, their number or nationality, or whether they were deaths or injuries.

In addition to McEnany, National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe also said in a statement Saturday that he “confirmed that neither the president nor the vice president were informed of the intelligence the New York Times claimed in its report yesterday.”

He added: “The White House statement that dealt with this issue today, which denied such a meeting, was correct. The reporting of the New York Times and all other subsequent reports on such an alleged briefing are not accurate.”

According to the Times, the Trump administration held extended intelligence briefings last week and shared information about it with the British government, whose forces are also believed to have been targeted.

Russia’s embassy in Washington, DC, on Friday denied the Times report as “unfounded allegations” that led to death threats against Russian diplomats in Washington and London. The Taliban also rejected the report.

This story has been updated with additional basic information and context.

CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh, Veronica Stracqualursi and Radina Gigova contributed to this report.

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