Liz Cheney. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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.

Go deeper: Trump denies report he was briefed on alleged Russian bounties on U.S. troops

Go deeper

Pelosi, Schumer slam Trump for not reading intel reports after Russia bounty briefing

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) released a statement criticizing President Trump after the pair took part in a classified briefing on reports of Russian bounties paid on U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.

What they're saying: "Our Armed Forces would be better served if President Trump spent more time reading his daily briefing and less time planning military parades and defending relics of the Confederacy," the pair wrote.

McEnany: "Right decision" not to brief Trump on Russian bounty intelligence

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday that the career CIA officer who chose not to verbally brief President Trump on the intelligence about alleged Russian bounties made "the right decision."

Driving the news: National security adviser Robert O'Brien told Fox News earlier Wednesday that "once the U.S. received raw intelligence on the Russian bounties, U.S. and coalition forces were made aware even though the intelligence wasn't verified."

Bolton says he would have briefed Trump on Russian bounty intelligence

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."