Over the past week, an explosive story was released by The New York Times revealing that the Russian intelligence agency, GRU, offered Taliban fighters bounties on the heads of U.S. soldiers. Even more explosive were the statements made by White House and intelligence officials who told The Times that Donald Trump had been briefed on the story, but did nothing about it.
“U.S. intelligence reports named Rahmatullah Azizi as a key middleman between the GRU & militants linked to the Taliban who carried out the attacks….
Afghan officials said prizes of as much as $100,000 per killed soldier were offered for American and coalition targets.” https://t.co/K3krgKaJ1p
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) July 2, 2020
Although Trump denies that the story is true or that the intelligence has been verified at all, a suspect is now in custody who served as a middleman between the GRU and Taliban soldiers, passing cash as bounties on U.S. soldiers. Rahmatullah Azizi, known for being a low-level drug dealer, suddenly began flashing a lot of cash that he earned mysteriously. When security agencies raided his home, they found over half a million dollars in cash. Afghan officials have confirmed that Azizi was operating as Russia’s go-between.
According to The New York Times:
‘Rahmatullah Azizi stands as a central piece of a puzzle rocking Washington, named in American intelligence reports and confirmed by Afghan officials as a key middleman who for years handed out money from a Russian military intelligence unit to reward Taliban-linked fighters for targeting American troops in Afghanistan, according to American and Afghan officials.’
If the reports are true, Donald Trump either read his briefings about the Russian bounties and did nothing — or he didn't read them at all. Either way, it's an unjustifiable dereliction of duty.
The American people deserve answers. https://t.co/LuDqIUrjhP
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 1, 2020
Although he wouldn’t confirm nor deny that Trump had been briefed, and Trump says that he wasn’t because the information was never verified to a level that the president should have been briefed, Trump’s former national security advisor, John Bolton, says that he witnessed gross incompetence by the White House on policies involving Russia. He further implied that Trump is so lost when it comes to comprehending foreign policy that he often gets run over by dictators like Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Bolton told Reuters that:
‘What we need is a more comprehensive strategy to deal with Russia. I think in (Russian President) Vladimir Putin and his government, you’ve got somebody playing a very weak hand very well. And I don’t really think we’re playing much of a hand at all.’
“No corroborating evidence to back reports.” Department of Defense. Do people still not understand that this is all a made up Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me & the Republican Party. I was never briefed because any info that they may have had did not rise to that level
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2020
White House officials speaking on condition of anonymity have told reporters that Trump was briefed on the matter in March 2019, prior to his attempts to bring Russia back into the G7, despite the fact that they had been removed from the group over their annexation of Crimea. Officials say that Trump was not briefed orally, but that it was included in his written daily briefings, raising questions about whether Trump read then at all.
POLITICO writes that:
‘Top White House officials confirmed to lawmakers this week that the Russian bounty intelligence was included in Trump’s daily written brief in late February, Capitol Hill sources say — even though it had not yet been briefed to the president orally by that point.’
New: The WH is zeroing in on Trump’s intel briefer as the reason why Trump wasn’t told orally about Russia bounty intel (despite it being in PDB). Former officials, though, say “using the excuse that the briefer didn't tell him is just that: an excuse.” https://t.co/c8laP9J3jc
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) July 1, 2020
Featured image screenshot via YouTube