Trump claims reports about Russia’s offer and payment of bounties for the killing of American soldiers in Afghanistan is a complete hoax. However, it appears that Republican lawmakers are not going to let it go at that. Some are supporting Democratic House Speaker Pelosi’s call for an investigation of the matter.
In fact the calls for a Congressional hearing has heightened as more information about the Russian bounty report attests to the credibility of the intel info.
Background to the Russia Bounties News Report
Last June of this year, both the Washington Post and The New York Times reported that Russia was paying cash rewards to Talibans in Afghanistan, as incentives to kill as many American soldiers as they can. The discovery was made after a successful raid of a Taliban outpost revealed large amounts of U.S.dollars. Related interrogations further disclosed that the money came from Russian intelligence units as rewards for killing U.S. soldiers.
Although Trump says the story is just another “fake news” just to make him look bad, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed that the U.S. intelligence agencies made such a report, which debunks Trump’s claim that it’s fake news.
However, McEnany claims that there was a general consensus among White House and intelligence officials not to brief Trump about the matter; mainly because the intel was not verified. Yet unnamed White House officials stated the contrary, saying Trump was briefed about it.
Nevertheless, whether or not Trump was briefed was not the question, as the issue raised is what actions were taken to protect U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan? Further assessment of the events revealed that the intelligence reports came at the time Trump was making a push to withdraw the U.S deployment in Afghanistan. It was also the time when Trump was purportedly holding peace talks with the Taliban, in an effort to end the long running conflict between them,
Additional News Reports Say that the Russia Bounty Intel was Verified by Financial Analysts
Later news developments revealed that U.S. financial analysts were able to intercept large financial transfers that were received by Afghan businessmen, who served as go-between for Russian agents and the Taliban group. The financial transactions purportedly went through the “hawala” system, which has been touted as the invisible source of funding for terrorism.
Republican Lawmakers Who Were Post-Briefed About the Matter are Concerned
Inasmuch as the financial verifications tank White House claims that the intel report was not credible and was not verified, several Republican lawmakers are calling for a Congressional hearing in order to get down to the real truth on whether Trump was informed or not. .
Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, Mac Thornberry also of Texas, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Sen. Pat Toomey of Philadelphia, and Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, all strongly support Congressional investigations on the matter. That way, the White House administration can take swift and decisive actions to hold Russian president Putin responsible, once the intelligence officers have completed the review process.