Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris claimed during Wednesday night’s the vice presidential debate that President Donald Trump ignored alleged Russian bounties on American troops, despite several generals and intelligence officials saying there is no evidence corroborating the claim.
“[There was] Public reporting that Russia had bounties on the heads of American soldiers,” Harris said. “And you know what a bounty is? Somebody puts a price on your head and they will pay it if you are killed. And Donald Trump had talked at least 6 times to Vladimir Putin and never brought up the subject. Joe Biden would never do that.”
Trump said in July he didn’t discuss the alleged intelligence, which was first reported by The New York Times, with Putin because evidence to support the claims was lacking.
“I have never discussed it with Putin. I would, I have no problem with it,” Trump said, according to CNN.
Trump said he would “respond appropriately” to the issue if intelligence corroborated the report, per CNN. (RELATED: Kamala Harris Avoids Outlining Biden, Harris COVID Strategy)
Top generals have said the claim that Russia worked with the Taliban to place bounties on U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East are not corroborated by any intelligence.
“It just had not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told NBC News.
“We continue to look for that evidence. I just haven’t seen it yet. But … it’s not a closed issue,” McKenzie said. “I found what they presented to me very concerning, very worrisome. I just couldn’t see the final connection, so I sent my guys back and said, look, keep digging. So we have continued to dig and look because this involves potential threats to U.S. forces, it’s open. I just haven’t seen anything that closes that gap yet.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper denied getting briefed on the situation, according to NPR.
“To the best of my recollection, I have not received a briefing that included the word ‘bounty,’” Esper said.
“If it was a credible report, a credible, corroborated report, that used those words, certainly it would have been brought to my attention by chain of command, by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and others, for action. We would have taken upon that action an interagency effort to make sure we addressed it,” Esper said, per NPR.