WASHINGTON (AP) – Joe Biden attacked President Donald Trump on Saturday over a report he says contains a “really shocking revelation” about the commander in chief and his failure to protect U.S. forces in Afghanistan and stand up against Russia.
The New York Times reported Friday that US intelligence officials concluded months ago that a Russian military intelligence agency has secretly offered bribes to Taliban-affiliated militants for murdering US troops in Afghanistan. The report said the Russians offered rewards for successful attacks last year, at a time when the US and the Taliban were in talks to end the long-running war.
“The really shocking revelation is that if the Times report is true, and I emphasize it again, President Trump, the commander-in-chief of the US forces serving in a dangerous theater of war, has known about this for months, the Times and worse than nothing, ”said Biden, the suspected Democratic candidate, at a virtual city hall.
The White House said that neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence had been made aware of such information. “This is not in contradiction to the alleged intelligence, but to the inaccuracy of the New York Times story that falsely suggests that President Trump was informed,” said press secretary Kayleigh McEnany in a statement.
Russia called the report “nonsense.”
“This unaffected plant clearly illustrates the low intellectual capacities of US intelligence propagandists who, instead of inventing something more plausible, should invent this nonsense,” said the Russian State Department.
The Times quoted a Taliban spokesman who denied that his militants have such a deal with Russian intelligence.
The newspaper, citing unnamed officials familiar with the intelligence agency, said the findings were presented to Trump in late March and discussed by his National Security Council. Officials developed possible responses, starting with a diplomatic complaint to Russia, but the White House has not yet approved a single step, the report said.
Biden turned down Trump for his reported negligence.
“Not only has he not sanctioned Russia nor imposed any consequences for this gross violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of reverence and humiliation for Vladimir Putin,” said the former vice president.
Biden called it a “betrayal of the most sacred duty we have as a nation – to protect and equip our troops when we endanger them.”
He said Americans serving in the military are risking their lives. “But they would never, never, ever face such a threat if their commander in chief turned a blind eye to a foreign power putting a premium on their heads,” he said.
“I’m frankly outraged by the report,” said Biden. He promised that if elected, “Putin will face and we will impose high costs on Russia.”
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