White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the New York Times report about Russia allegedly offering bounties to Afghan terrorists to kill U.S. soldiers contains “false reporting,” adding that President Donald Trump was never briefed on the “alleged intelligence.”
The Saturday report cited numerous U.S. intelligence officials who say that a covert Russian unit “secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops.” It added that “Islamist militants … are believed to have collected some bounty money,” citing unnamed officials.
McEnany condemned the unnamed officials who spoke to the NYT, adding the the report includes “false reporting.” She did not elaborate on what the “false reporting” was, but said Monday morning on Fox & Friends that the afternoon press briefing would touch upon it.
“But it is truly egregious when you have anonymous sources spewing out this information on the pages of the New York Times and wrongly giving them false information,” McEnany said, calling the report “just dead wrong.”
“I don’t know who these unnamed sources are, but it is really egregious,” she added. “There’s no place for this kind of leaking — it does not serve the interest of the United States to go and to share classified information or unverified intelligence or any of the thousands of reports that come in on any given day that have to be assessed for their credibility.”
Trump was briefed on the intelligence finding, officials said according to the NYT. The president denied that he was briefed on the situation in a series of tweets Sunday, a point echoed by McEnany Monday morning. (RELATED: ‘They Get Things Wrong From Time To Time’: Bolton Jabs At Media Over Russian Bounty Claims)
“Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an ‘anonymous source’ by the Fake News @nytimes,” Trump tweeted. “Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us.”
The president added that “Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration” and said the story was likely “just another phony Times hit job.”