WASHINGTON — The White House said Monday that President Donald Trump wasn’t briefed on U.S. intelligence assessments earlier this year that Russia secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing American troops in Afghanistan because the information had not been verified.
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany added that Trump — even now — had not been briefed on the allegations because the intelligence “would not be elevated to the president until it was verified.”
However, the White House seemed to be setting an unusually high bar for bringing the information to Trump, since it is rare for intelligence to be confirmed without a shadow of doubt before it is presented to senior government decision-makers.
The result was an odd situation in which eight Republican lawmakers attended a briefing at the White House on Monday about explosive allegations that the president himself was said to have not been fully read in on. McEnany declined to say why a different standard of confidence in the intelligence applied to briefing lawmakers than bringing the information to the president.
A White House official said Democrats also were invited to a White House briefing. It was scheduled to take place Tuesday morning, according to two Democratic aides.
On CNN, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed the Democratic briefing but said “it’s no substitute for what they owe the Congress of the United States.” She said “this is as serious as it gets.”
She speculated that Trump wasn’t briefed “because they know it makes him very unhappy, and all roads for him, as you know, lead to Putin. And would he tell Putin what they knew?”
McEnany, for her part, repeatedly stressed that the allegations had not been confirmed.
“There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations and in effect there are dissenting opinions from some in the intelligence community with regards to the veracity of what’s being reported and the veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated,” she said.