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

Biden campaign calls Trump's failure to raise Russian bounties with Putin "despicable"

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign on Wednesday said it was "absolutely despicable" that President Trump failed to confront Vladimir Putin with intelligence indicating Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Driving the news: The president told "Axios on HBO" that he never raised the issue with his Russian counterpart, despite speaking to Putin at least eight times since intelligence about the alleged bounties was reportedly included in the President's Daily Brief in late February.

Pentagon chief says U.S. will pull nearly 12,000 troops from Germany

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Photo: MICHAEL REYNOLDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will bring about 6,400 troops home from Germany and move about 5,400 more to other countries in Europe, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: President Trump has expressed a desire to remove the troops in the past, accusing Germany of "delinquent" payments to NATO. But the idea has been met with some bipartisan opposition in Congress, as many lawmakers believe removing troops would encourage Russian aggression

Jul 29, 2020 - Podcasts

Podcast: Trump never asked Putin about bounties

In an exclusive interview for "Axios on HBO," President Trump told Jonathan Swan he never confronted Vladimir Putin about intelligence indicating Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. troops. The full interview with President Trump will air on HBO on Monday August 3rd at 11pm.