President Trump was not briefed on the allegations that Russian units offered bounties for the killing of US troops, according to O’Brien.

In light of recent articles from the New York Times and other media outlets about a suspected Russian plot against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien issued a statement confirming that no one briefed President Trump on the matter.

“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,” read the statement.

What happened?

On Friday, the New York Times broke the news that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for the killing of coalition forces — including U.S. troops — in Afghanistan, according to U.S. intelligence officials. 

U.S. intelligence officers and Special Operations forces alerted their superiors of the Russian bounties as early as January, and said they believed at least one U.S. troop death was the consequence of the suspected plot, according to officials briefed on the subject. 

U.S. intelligence officers and Special Operations forces alerted their superiors of the Russian bounties as early as January

The Times reported that Trump received a written briefing about this suspected plot in late February, but White House officials stand firm and insist that no one briefed Trump on the subject.

At the press briefing with White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, McEnany said that no one briefed Trump because there has yet to be a consensus among those working in intelligence about the suspected plot. McEnany said, “and, in fact, there were dissenting opinions within the intelligence community, and it would not be elevated to the president until it was verified.”

Tensions run high in the Senate 

Tensions run high in the Senate as senators voice their concerns with Trump’s calls for closer ties with the Kremlin. In a request addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, three Democrats in the Senate condemned Trump’s actions.

Even though multiple outlets reported that officials Trump briefed on the matter in late February or March, he has since taken no punitive measures against Russia. Instead, he tried to fortify the relationship between the two countries, according to the request. These three senators also called for Pompeo and Esper to appear before the Senate this week to answer questions.

O’Brien: Let me be clear that there is nothing more important to President Trump than America’s security and the safety of our men and women in uniform.

In his statement, O’Brien issued grievances with those who leaked the information to the press. He said, “to those government officials who betray the trust of the people of the United States by leaking classified information, your actions endanger our national security. No matter the motivation, there is never a justification for such conduct.”

O’Brien concluded his statement by reaffirming Trump’s role as Commander in Chief;

“Let me be clear that there is nothing more important to President Trump than America’s security and the safety of our men and women in uniform. He has demonstrated this commitment time and again.”

Candy Chan

Candy Chan is studying History with a focus on War and Revolution at Barnard College. She is currently a staff writer at the Columbia Daily Spectator, covering issues pertaining to Columbia's...