Trump Dismisses Report of Russian 'Bounties' on U.S. Soldiers

Clay Curtis
July 30, 2020

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he did not speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin about intelligence claiming Russia was offering bounties to the Taliban for American soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

The Washington Post further reported that the Russian bounties are "believed to have resulted in the deaths of several us service members", and the Associated Press reported that officials said an April 2019 attack on an American convoy that killed three Marines in Afghanistan is under investigation.

The New York Times, which first reported the alleged Russian bounties in Afghanistan, said Moscow may have been retaliating for the strike in which hundreds of pro-Damascus fighters were believed to have been killed, including numerous Russian mercenaries.

The two have also spoken on the phone almost two dozen times since Trump took office.

According to Trump, he never read that intelligence, although he told Axios in the interview recorded Tuesday that he does read his daily briefing papers. "It never reached my desk".

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In comments to reporters at the White House on Wednesday, Trump doubled down, saying that he didn't take the story seriously and had little reason to suspect Moscow.

Trump said that the intelligence "never reached my desk" because of questions about its veracity and said if it had, "I would've done something about it". To this day, Mary said, Trump still crosses his arms and gets visibly upset about it.

A readout of the call distributed by the White House said the two world leaders also talked about the coronavirus pandemic, as well as "critical bilateral and global issues". "Our country has seen the very real consequences of overreacting to unverified intelligence in the past".

The interview immediately prompted a response from the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Trump, in an interview this week with Axios, said that U.S. intelligence did not think the account of Russian bounties in Afghanistan was real and that he never raised the issue with Putin.

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