The new controversy over allegations that Russia put bounties on US troops in Afghanistan—and whether President Trump himself was briefed about it—continues to gain steam. The White House briefed a group of Republican lawmakers on the issue Monday, and a group of Democratic lawmakers will be briefed on Tuesday, reports Politico. Trump has insisted that he was never told about the allegations, though reports continue to surface challenging that. The AP, for example, is out with a story saying that top White House officials were aware of classified intel on the matter in early 2019 and that it "was included in at least one of President Donald Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time." The story also reports that former national security adviser John Bolton has told friends he briefed Trump about it.
The New York Times makes a similar assertion in the first paragraph of its latest story: "American officials provided a written briefing in late February to President Trump laying out their conclusion that a Russian military intelligence unit offered and paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, two officials familiar with the matter said." One of the Republicans in Monday's briefing, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, defended the president afterward, reports NBC News. Yes, the allegation may have appeared in a written briefing to the president, he said, but it wasn't deemed to be "a credible, actionable piece of intelligence" at the time. "And if at any point it did, it would be raised to his attention." McCaul, the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, added that he came out of the briefing concerned that the bounty allegations were true. (Read more President Trump stories.)