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Former Intelligence officials scoff at White House denials that Trump wasn't briefed on Russia bounty

June 30, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

President Donald Trump walks on he South Lawn after arriving on Marine One at the White House, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Washington. Trump is returning from Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

In response to reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill US troops in Afghanistan, the White House has denied that President Donald Trump was "personally briefed" on the matter, claiming that the intelligence "wasn't verified."

Washington (CNN)In response to reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill US troops in Afghanistan, the White House has denied that President Donald Trump was "personally briefed" on the matter, claiming that the intelligence "wasn't verified. "

But a US official familiar with the latest information told CNN on Monday that intelligence about the Russian bounty was included in the President's Daily Briefing (PDB) sometime in the spring.

These latest revelations come as numerous former senior intelligence officials are pushing back on the White House denials, saying it was "absurd," "ridiculous," and "inconceivable" that the President would not have been briefed on such critical intelligence that potentially put US soldiers in harm's way.

On Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeatedly told reporters that the assessment on Russia did not reach Trump's desk because there is "no consensus" among US spy agencies and that intelligence must be verified before it is presented to the President.

On Saturday, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe put out a statement confirming that "neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed" on the intelligence, which was first reported by the New York Times Friday evening.

Not only should the President have been made aware of such intelligence, they say, but the notion that the President wasn't briefed because there was a difference of opinion among intelligence agencies is "inconceivable," said one former senior intelligence official, especially since it involved Russia.

"That's ridiculous," the former official said about the White House's claim, adding that it is "hard to believe" the intelligence community shared what it was hearing about Russia with allies like the British and not at least inform the President that it was a thread they were following.

A current administration official also said that some members of the US intelligence community feel "abandoned" by the Trump administration, particularly when it comes to Afghanistan, where the administration continues to pursue a peace deal with the Taliban.

Pressed Monday on whether the information was included in the PDB, McEnany said only that Trump "was not personally briefed," insisting that the intelligence never reached him due to "dissent" within the intelligence community.

"Presidents are briefed on credible intelligence based on the best validation of the information we can provide, said one former senior intelligence official.

Since the intelligence failures of the Iraq War, assessments now more explicitly lay out the level of confidence that various agencies have in the intelligence being reported, said another former senior official, adding that if the President was briefed only on things that were 100% certain, "his PDB would be very thin. "

"One key question is if intelligence officials did not tell Trump about the intel that Russians offered the Taliban bounties to kill US troops because they were concerned that he would tell Putin," Pelosi said.

Trump has suggested in briefings that he does not believe some of what he is told by intelligence briefers, and in other settings has downplayed conclusions about intelligence presented to him by senior officials.

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