Trump Blasts NYT Report About Bounties on U.S. Troops, Says He Wasn't Briefed

President Donald Trump denied he was aware of a Russian military intelligence arm that was secretly paying bounties to Taliban-linked militias to kill Americans, British and other coalition forces in Afghanistan, as reported by The New York Times on Friday.

The president himself weighed in Sunday on Twitter, directly calling out the Times for accusing him of ignoring the intelligence.

"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. Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us.....," he wrote.

...Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine - Where’s Hunter? Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their “source”?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2020

He continued: "Nobody's been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine - Where's Hunter? Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their 'source'?"

Newsweek reached out to the White House for additional comments Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and former Trump national security adviser John Bolton joined a chorus of critics who say Trump's failure to take action against Russia only proves his connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Not only has he failed to sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin," Biden said Saturday.

Trump referenced his Democratic rival in another tweet Sunday: "Funny to see Corrupt Joe Biden reading a statement on Russia, which was obviously written by his handlers. Russia ate his and Obama's lunch during their time in office, so badly that Obama wanted them out of the then G-8. U.S. was weak on everything, but especially Russia!"

Funny to see Corrupt Joe Biden reading a statement on Russia, which was obviously written by his handlers. Russia ate his and Obama’s lunch during their time in office, so badly that Obama wanted them out of the then G-8. U.S. was weak on everything, but especially Russia!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2020

On the alleged bounty, Pelosi told ABC News' This Week Sunday: "This is as bad as it gets and yet the president will not confront the Russians." She added: "With him [Trump] all roads lead to Putin ... I don't know what the Russians have on the president politically, personally, financially or whatever."

Bolton, the former Trump administration national security adviser, also responded to the Times allegations that the president was aware of the Russian intelligence.

"From what we do know from the president's own tweets this morning, to me it looks like just another day at the office in the Trump White House," he told NBC News' Meet the Press Sunday morning. "I've never recalled a circumstance where the president himself goes out of his way to say he wasn't briefed on something."

Bolton continued: "But it is pretty remarkable the president's going out of his way to say he hasn't heard anything about it, one asks, why would he do something like that? I think the answer may be precisely because active Russian aggression like that against the American service members is a very, very serious matter and nothing's been done about it, if it's true, for these past four or five months. So it may look like he was negligent, but of course he can disown everything if nobody ever told him about it."

Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney tweeted about the report earlier Sunday: "If reporting about Russian bounties on US forces is true, the White House must explain: 1. Why weren't the president or vice president briefed? Was the info in the PDB? 2. Who did know and when? 3. What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?"

If reporting about Russian bounties on US forces is true, the White House must explain:
1. Why weren’t the president or vice president briefed? Was the info in the PDB?
2. Who did know and when?
3. What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?

— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) June 28, 2020

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded to the Times report by denying that either Trump or Vice President Mike Pence -- who are members of the National Security Council -- had any knowledge of the report.

"The United States receives thousands of intelligence reports a day and they are subject to strict scrutiny. While the White House does not routinely comment on alleged intelligence or internal deliberations, the CIA Director, National Security Advisor, and the Chief of Staff can all confirm that neither the President nor the Vice President were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence," said McEnany.

"This does not speak to the merit of the alleged intelligence but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter," she later said.

Updated 4:47 PM ET, to include Liz Cheney's tweet.

Trump and Putin
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28, 2019. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty