US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said that President Donald Trump had not been briefed on the reports of alleged Russian bounties because they were not verified or substantiated by the intelligence community. He also lambasted government officials for leaking classified information on alleged bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill US troops in Afghanistan.
“To those government officials who betray the trust of the people of the United States by leaking classified information, your actions endanger our national security. No matter the motivation, there is never a justification for such conduct,” said O’Brien in a statement.
Earlier today, John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence, said in a statement that the “selective leaking” of classified information disrupts the vital interagency work to collect, assess, and mitigate threats and places forces at risk. He added that the agencies are still investigating the alleged intelligence referenced in recent media reporting and will brief the President and Congressional leaders at the appropriate time.
“Unfortunately, unauthorised disclosures now jeopardise our ability to ever find out the full story with respect to these allegations,” the statement read.
According to media reports, several House Democrats will be briefed by the White House at 5.30pm IST on June 30 after facing strong criticism. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke to Ratcliffe and Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel after formally requesting for a full House briefing on the intelligence surrounding Russian bounties.
In the formal request, Pelosi had said that the administration’s “disturbing silence and inaction” endanger the lives of US troops and coalition partners. She said that Trump’s refusal to stand up to the Russians also jeopardises lives in the region, as the Afghan government and the United States are engaged in critical peace negotiations with the Taliban.
“Congress and the country need answers now. I therefore request an interagency brief for all House Members immediately,” she wrote.