So many hoaxes, so much evidence. Money transfers, middle-men. The issue is less about the bounty since it likely is SOP, but more that Trump has denied it. One expects that reciprocity will happen, but even SecDef Esper admitting knowing the existence of the reports is troubling, despite the (usual) Trumpian ignorance.
Esper said he didn’t recall a briefing that mentioned the word “bounties.” But, under questioning he later acknowledged that there were reports that mentioned “payments.”
WASHINGTON — Top Pentagon leaders told Congress on Thursday that reports of Russia offering Taliban militants bounties for killing Americans were not corroborated by defense intelligence agencies, but said they are looking into it and the U.S. will respond if necessary.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said his military commanders heard initial reports on the bounty issue in January and he first saw an intelligence paper about it in February. While the threats were taken seriously, he said they have not yet been found credible.Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on the role of the military during recent protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd. Several House members asked about the Russian bounty reports. Milley said Russia and other nations have long worked against the U.S. in Afghanistan and provided support to the Taliban, but the specific notion of bounties hasn’t been proven.
President Donald Trump initially labeled the reports about bounties “just another hoax” made up by the media. The White House has said Trump wasn’t briefed on the intelligence until after the stories broke. According to U.S. intelligence officials, information that Russia offered bounties to Taliban militants for killing American troops was included in a briefing for Trump in late February.
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) July 9, 2020
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) July 10, 2020