Jun 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

GOP senator demands accountability over reports of Russian bounties on U.S. troops

Todd Young.

Sen. Todd Young. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) sent a letter to President Trump on Monday calling for Senate hearings over media reports that U.S. intelligence assessed that a Russian spy unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Why it matters: The letter, from a Republican Trump ally on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is a sign that the Senate could break partisan lines to scrutinize whether the president knew about the intelligence — and if so, why he did not act on it.

The big picture: Trump has denied reports that he was briefed on the intelligence, and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday that there was "no consensus within the intelligence community" about the allegations.

  • McEnany would not say whether the intelligence was included in the President’s Daily Brief and instead reiterated that Trump was not “personally briefed on the matter."
  • The White House briefed several House Republicans on the intelligence on Monday, including House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney — who called on the administration to provide answers about the reports on Sunday.

What he's saying: "Depending on where the facts lead, there should be no invitation for the Russian Federation to rejoin the G7 and you should impose sanctions directly on both President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov," Young wrote in the letter.

  • "It is imperative that the United States remain vigilant and uncompromising in the face of Russia’s threatening, provocative, and destabilizing behavior. With that in mind, I am alarmed by reports that you, the Vice President, and the relevant Congressional Committees were not briefed on this critical threat to our service members and to our national security."
  • "I believe that you would have wanted to know this critical intelligence information and be provided with the resources necessary to save the lives of our men and women in uniform. I stand ready to hold any members of your Administration accountable for their gross negligence in performing such a grave responsibility."

What to watch: Young recommended "the relevant Senate committees convene oversight hearings on this matter" to figure out where to "advance accountability within our own government and facilitate a punishing response," if Congress deems it necessary.

Read the letter via DocumentCloud.

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