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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."
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."
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced an amendment on Wednesday that would require the Trump administration to impose asset freezing sanctions on President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials involved in alleged bounties to Taliban-linked militants.
Why it matters: It's the first legislative proposal related to the controversy over the alleged Russian bounty scheme, which President Trump and other top officials have sought to downplay as unverified intelligence.
The Russian government is working with the Afghan government, regional countries, and the Taliban to "gain increased influence in Afghanistan" and "expedite a U.S. military withdrawal," according to a Department of Defense report published Wednesday.
Why it matters: The report was released amid a mounting controversy over allegations that U.S. intelligence assessed that Russian operatives were paying bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops. President Trump has denied that he was briefed and tweeted Wednesday that the reports are a "Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me & the Republican Party."
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe is scheduled to provide a closed-door briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday amid allegations that Russian operatives paid Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, according to a spokesman for acting committee chair Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
Why it matters: The allegations that top officials at the White House were aware of intelligence that U.S. troops were being targeted by Russia have prompted bipartisan outcry. GOP lawmakers Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) are among those demanding answers.
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.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday at a press conference that, after receiving a White House briefing, he sees no indication that the intelligence surrounding allegations that Russian operatives paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops is a "hoax" — as President Trump has suggested.
What he's saying: "The president called this a hoax publicly. Nothing in the briefing that we have just received led me to believe it is a hoax. There may be different judgments as to the level of credibility, but there was no assertion that the information we had was a hoax."
House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on CNN Monday that it would be "unfathomable" if President Trump knew about intelligence that Russian operatives allegedly paid Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops and still invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to rejoin the G7 summit in September.
Why it matters: Schiff is one of several bipartisan members of Congress who have urged the Trump administration to provide answers in the wake of bombshell media reports about the alleged Russian bounties. He told CNN that he and several other House Democrats will be briefed on the intelligence on Tuesday morning.
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.