White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany condemned the New York Times at a briefing Tuesday for publishing "unverified" allegations about intelligence on Russian bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, suggesting that "rogue intelligence officers" are undermining President Trump and the country's security.
Driving the news: McEnany insisted that the president had not been briefed on the intelligence because it has not been fully verified by the intelligence community. She declined to comment on a recent New York Times report that the finding was included in late February in the written President's Daily Brief (PDB), which Trump has been reported to seldom read.
- Pressed on this question, McEnany responded: "The president does read. And he also consumes intelligence verbally. This president, I'll tell you, is the most informed person on planet earth when it comes to the threats that we face."
- McEnany went on to again attack the New York Times for the "irresponsible leak," and said that Trump would absolutely take action if intelligence showed that U.S. troops were in danger.
- Worth noting: While the Times was the first to report on the story, elements of the alleged intelligence have also been reported by the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, AP and NBC News.
What they're saying:
MCENANY: "These are rogue intelligence officers who are imperiling our troops' lives. We will very likely not be able to get a consensus on this intelligence because of what was leaked to the New York Times. And you have the NSC, ODNI and CIA all noting what damage this leak does, not just to the safety of our troops, which is paramount, but to the ability for the United States to aggregate information from our allies and have assets and get this valuable information."
REPORTER: "Members of the IC are going after Trump? Is that what you're saying?"
MCENANY: "It very possibly could be. And if that's the case, it's absolutely despicable."
The big picture: House Democrats who received a briefing on the Russia allegations from the White House on Tuesday morning rebuked Trump for suggesting that the reports were a "hoax," and called for a full House briefing by the intelligence community.
- "Nothing in the briefing that we have just received led me to believe it is a hoax," Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said. "There may be different judgments as to the level of credibility, but there was no assertion that the information we had was a hoax."