Top Republican demands answers from White House over reports of Russian bounties
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) tweeted on Sunday morning that the Trump administration must provide answers about media reports that U.S. intelligence found that a Russian military spy unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Why it matters: Cheney, the chair of the House Republican Conference, is the highest-ranking GOP figure in Congress to question the White House on the explosive reports of Russian bounties, which — if true — would mark a major escalation in U.S.-Russian relations.
What she's saying: "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?" Cheney tweeted.
The big picture: Trump claimed Sunday that neither he, Vice President Mike Pence nor chief of staff Mark Meadows was briefed on the alleged Russian bounties, though he incorrectly characterized the reports as "so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians."
- The New York Times reported Friday that Trump was briefed on the finding in late March. The report was later confirmed by the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and CNN.
- The Times reported that despite knowing about the bounties, Trump floated expanding the upcoming G7 summit meeting in Washington, D.C., in September to include Russia, which was disinvited from the annual meeting after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.