The intelligence that assessed there was an effort by a Russian military intelligence unit to pay the Taliban to kill US soldiers was included in one of President Donald Trump’s daily briefings on intelligence matters sometime in the spring, according to a US official with direct knowledge of the latest information.
That assessment, the source said, was backed up by “several pieces of information” that supported the view that there was an effort by the Russian intelligence unit — the GRU — to pay bounties to kill US soldiers, including interrogation of Taliban detainees and electronic eavesdropping.
The source said there was some other information that did not corroborate this view but said, nonetheless, ‘”This was a big deal. When it’s about US troops you go after it 100%, with everything you got.”
The New York Times reported Monday night that the intelligence had been included in a written version of the President’s Daily Brief in late February.
Trump is not known to fully or regularly read the President’s Daily Brief, something that is well-known within the White House. He is instead orally briefed two or three times a week by his intelligence officials. The White House maintains he was not briefed about this in the oral session.
The information was serious enough the National Security Council staff held a meeting during the spring to discuss “possible response options,” including sanctions, if the intelligence developed to the point it was deemed ready to take to the President for any possible action, the official said.
Pressed on Monday whether the information was included in the President’s Daily Brief — the written document that includes the intelligence community’s more important and urgent information — White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said only that Trump “was not personally briefed.”