Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told Fox News Radio Tuesday that it is unlikely President Trump was briefed on intelligence that Russia secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing American troops in Afghanistan due to the information’s unverified nature.
“I don’t think the president was briefed,” Kinzinger told “The Brian Kilmeade Show.” “The briefer made the decision when he — keep in mind this is when the coronavirus pandemic is kicking off as well — skipped over that issue to wait for more information.”
The New York Times report on the intelligence sent shockwaves throughout Washington over the weekend. A senior U.S. official told Fox News Monday that the National Security Council recently met to come up with a “menu of responses” to Russian action in Afghanistan. However, a White House official said the president was not briefed on the matter until “after the NY Times reported on unverified intelligence” Friday.
“What I do know is that whether or not the president was briefed, frankly, is irrelevant because the intelligence agencies could not yet agree on this,” explained Kinzinger, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who attended a White House briefing on the subject. “If this is something, you need to have large agreement or at least [agreement] to a point of significant confidence to be able to take action.
“Otherwise, in theory, if it’s not true and you’re reacting against the Russians, think of the damage of that.”
Kinzinger added that the intelligence leak to the Times is more than likely going to “dry up any trails we have been pursuing to get more information on this,” but urged lawmakers to resist politicizing the issue as they wait for more information.
“I think where we’re at now, unfortunately, this has become a political issue,” he said. “Republicans and Democrats should both agree that if Russia is doing this, there has to be harsh consequences. Instead, a lot of people have taken this as a moment to do politics with it and embarrass the president.”
Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin and Kristin Fisher contributed to this report.