WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he was not briefed on potential Russian bounties on US troops because it “didn’t rise to the occasion,” and that “many” intelligence officers “didn’t believe it happened at all.”
Trump made the claim despite conflicting reports — including a US official telling CNN that intelligence about the bounties was included in the President’s Daily Brief sometime this spring.
“I’m sure I don’t see many things that they don’t think rose to the occasion,” Trump said, while claiming not to have been briefed on the intelligence.
“This didn’t rise to the occasion. And from what I hear — and I hear it pretty good, the intelligence people — many of them — didn’t believe it happened at all. I think it’s a hoax, I think it’s a hoax by the newspapers and the Democrats,” Trump told Fox Business in a Wednesday interview.
Trump said if there was a situation in which Russians put a bounty on US troops lives they would “hear about it.”
“First of all, they’d hear about it. But we never heard about it because intelligence never found it to be of that level. Where it would rise to that,” he said.
“This was something that never got presented to me, and they know that, never got presented because it didn’t rise to that level,” the President said.
The White House was provided with intelligence in early 2019 indicating Russian actors were offering bounties to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan, more than a year before Trump claimed he was not briefed on the same threat, according to a source familiar with the situation.
The White House had repeatedly denied Trump had been “personally briefed” on similar intelligence this year, claiming the assessment “wasn’t verified.”
But a US official familiar with the latest information told CNN that intelligence about the Russian bounties was included in the President’s Daily Brief sometime in the spring. The written document includes the intelligence community’s most important and urgent information.
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