White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that President Donald Trump is “prepared to act” against Russia and President Vladimir Putin if the intelligence community reaches a “consensus” on the alleged bounties paid to Taliban-backed fighters to kill American troops in Afghanistan.
McEnany, echoing her comments from Monday, responded to a question asked during the White House press briefing: “if this intelligence does turn out to be true, is the president prepared to take some serious action against Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin?” (REPORT: John Bolton Personally Briefed Trump On Russia-Taliban Bounties In 2019)
“The president has always taken action, unadulterated action against Russia,” she responded. “We saw that there is no diplomatic presence of the west coast of our country, of Russia because the president closed the consulates. We saw he expelled 60 officers, sanctioned hundreds of targets, withdrew from the IMF treaty, the Open Skies Treaty.”
“Make no mistake, this president is prepared to act and will always act with in protecting our American troops.”
Earlier in the briefing, McEnany accused the New York Times — in publishing classified information on its front page — of potentially preventing the intelligence community of reaching a consensus on the information’s veracity.
She again stated that Trump has not been directly briefed on the information because of the lack of consensus, but later also said the president “has been briefed, unfortunately, on what is in the public domain because of the New York Times.”
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel both issued statements late Monday evening making a similar accusation to McEnany’s claim.
“Over the past several days, the New York Times and other news outlets have reported on allegations regarding our troops in Afghanistan. While we do not normally discuss such matters, we constantly evaluate intelligence reports and brief the President as necessary,” O’Brien wrote. “Because the allegations in recent press articles have not been verified or substantiated by the Intelligence Community, President Trump had not been briefed on the items. Nevertheless, the Administration, including the National Security Council staff, have been preparing should the situation warrant action.”