The White House denied on Saturday that President Donald Trump was informed of US intelligence reports that the Russian military offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants for killing US troops in Afghanistan, and Democratic rival Joe Biden criticized Trump for failing to take action against Moscow.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that “neither the president nor the vice president (Mike Pence) were informed of the alleged Russian reward intelligence.”
The statement, McEnany said, did not address the “merit of alleged intelligence” reported on Friday by the New York Times.
A Russian military intelligence unit linked to assassination attempts in Europe offered rewards for successful attacks last year against US and coalition troops, the Times reported.
The newspaper reported that Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, were believed to have raised some reward money.
Trump was briefed on intelligence, but had not authorized measures to retaliate, the Times reported.
Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate who will challenge Trump in the Nov. 3 election, said during a virtual town hall Saturday that the Times report, if true, represents a “truly shocking revelation,” noting in particular the reported flaw of Trump to retaliate.
“Not only has he not sanctioned or imposed any consequences in Russia for this heinous violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his shameful campaign of deference and degradation to Vladimir Putin,” Biden said, referring to the Russian president.
Biden promised retaliation if he becomes president.
“If I am elected president, make no mistake, Vladimir Putin will face and we will impose serious costs on Russia,” Biden said.