President Donald Trump leaves the stage after speaking at an event at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin, last week. Picture: Morry Gash/AP
President Donald Trump leaves the stage after speaking at an event at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin, last week. Picture: Morry Gash/AP

'Remarkable' that Trump says he wasn't briefed on Russia bounties - John Bolton

By Ros Krasny, Ben Brody Time of article published Jun 28, 2020

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It's "remarkable" that President Donald Trump is energetically denying that he knew of intelligence reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin had put bounties on US and allied troops in Afghanistan, former national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday.

Two days after a New York Times report on the alleged actions by Russian military intelligence - paying Taliban-linked militias to kill Americans - Trump tweeted that "nobody briefed or told me" of the issue.

"Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an "anonymous source" by the Fake News @nytimes. Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us....."


"It is pretty remarkable the president's going out of his way to say he hasn't heard anything about it, one asks, why would he do something like that?" Bolton said.

"He can disown everything if no one ever told him about it," Bolton said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "It looks like just another day in the office at the Trump White House."

Bolton said he didn't know the quality of the intelligence on the Russian bounty plan, or the extent of it. And not all information that flows through the many US intelligence agencies is passed on to the commander in chief, Bolton noted.

"There needs to be a filter of intelligence for any president, especially for this president," he said.

"Active Russian aggression like that against American servicemen is a very, very serious matter," Bolton added.

Asked why Trump is often defensive of Russia's Putin, Bolton said he didn't read anything into it, necessarily. " I just don't know what to say other than if he likes dealing with strong authoritarian figures."

Trump on Sunday also lashed out at Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who criticized the president over his handling of the Russian reports on Saturday.

"Funny to see Corrupt Joe Biden reading a statement on Russia, which was obviously written by his handlers. Russia ate his and Obama's lunch during their time in office, so badly that Obama wanted them out of the then G-8. US was weak on everything, but especially Russia!"


Bolton is in the middle of a media blitz to promote his tell-all book depicting the president as consistently prioritizing his own re-election, even above national security. On NBC he repeated a contention that while he won't vote for Trump in November, he won't vote for Biden, either.

Bolton paints Trump in the book as ignorant, easily manipulated by foreign leaders and unfit for office. Trump has fired back, calling the book "lies" and tweeting that Bolton is "wacko" and a "disgruntled boring fool."

Bloomberg

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