Jul 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bolton says he would have briefed Trump on Russian bounty intelligence

John Bolton.

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

Former national security adviser John Bolton told CBS News' "The Takeout" podcast" on Wednesday that he would have personally briefed President Trump if he saw intelligence that Russian officials offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops, but cautioned that Trump is simply not receptive to intelligence briefings.

Driving the news: "The purpose of the briefing process is to meet the particular needs of the president and present it to him in the way that best suits his desires," Bolton said. "The problem with Donald Trump is not that he is not receptive to one means or another. He's just not receptive to new facts."

The big picture: Bolton said that because of Trump's "lack of interest in intelligence," the briefings he receives do not have as much information as they should. He declined to comment on reports that he had been involved in briefing the president on the Russian bounty matter in 2019.

  • Trump has denied that he was briefed on the matter before it was first reported by the New York Times last week, and the White House has said that the intelligence was unverified.
  • The New York Times later reported that the intelligence was included in a February edition of the President's Daily Brief, which Trump has been reported to seldom read.
  • On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that the reports are a "Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me & the Republican Party."

What he's saying: "It's a complex process and there's no point where it gets to be, you know, just right like in Goldilocks and three bears, and then you run in and tell the president," Bolton said.

  • "You don't take everything in to the president, but when American troops are threatened by an adversary like Russia in this way, if there's any indication this is an ongoing operation, it's something the president needs to take into account."

Bolton said he agreed with Susan Rice, his predecessor in the Obama administration, who wrote in an op-ed that she would have shown the intelligence to Obama.

  • "I would have done the same if — I hope I would have done the same if I had this kind of information."
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