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House panel demands Pentagon briefing on Russian bounties

John M. Donnelly, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- House Armed Services Committee leaders have pressed the Pentagon for a briefing by Tuesday on reports that Russian spies have been paying insurgents in Afghanistan to kill U.S. troops.

Adam Smith, D-Wash., the committee's chairman, and Mac Thornberry of Texas, the panel's top Republican, requested the briefing and have yet to finalize it, Thornberry told reporters Monday, saying: "It will not be acceptable to delay."

"It is absolutely essential that we get the information and be able to judge its credibility," Thornberry said of the reports about Russian payments to any Taliban-linked militants who kill Americans.

In a statement, Smith said "it is imperative" the committee receive detailed answer from the Defense Department.

"The American people – and our service members – deserve to know the truth about what the White House knew about these Russian operations that may have directly resulted in the deaths of American service members," Smith said. "We must find out exactly what was known, and when it was known to hold the appropriate Administration officials and the Russian government accountable."

The Washington Post, citing intelligence sources, reported Sunday that several U.S. military service members have lost their lives as a result.

 

"This is a very serious and very disturbing allegation, if true," Thornberry said.

Members of both parties have expressed concerns about the reported bounty and also about reports that President Donald Trump was briefed on it.

Trump has said he did not know.

"Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP," Trump tweeted on Sunday. "Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!"

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