President Donald Trump said in an interview this week that he has not brought up allegations that Russia issued bounties for the killing of American troops in Afghanistan with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump last spoke with Putin on July 23.
“That was a phone call to discuss other things,” Trump told Axios on Tuesday. “Frankly, thats an issue that many people said was fake news.”
Trump added later: “I have never discussed it with him. We would, Id have no problem with it.”
The president earlier this week declined to share specifics on what he and Putin talked about.
“We dont talk about what we discussed, but we had plenty of discussion, and I think it was very productive,” he told reporters at the White House.
The discussion with his counterpart centered on nuclear proliferation, Trump said in the interview.
“Nobody ever brings up China. They always bring [up] Russia, Russia, Russia. If we can do something with Russia in terms of nuclear proliferation, which is a very big problem—bigger problem than global warming, a much bigger problem than global warming, in terms of the real world—that can be a good thing,” he said.
The intelligence on possible bounties “never reached my desk,” he added. “You know why? Because they—intelligence—didnt think it was real, they didnt think it was worthy. If it reached my desk, I wouldve done something about it.”
The intelligence signaled Russia might have offered bounties to kill American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Because officials were still working on verifying the raw intelligence, a CIA employee made the decision not to brief Trump.
“She made that decision because she didnt have confidence in the intelligence that came up,” national security adviser Robert OBrien told reporters on July 1.
“She made that call. And you know what? I think she made the right call, so Im not going to criticize her. Knowing the facts that I know now, I stand behind that call.”
The intelligence was classified but leaked to news outlets. The selective leaking makes it difficult to verify the allegations, intelligence officials said.
“The illegal leaks are terrible. Theyre happening across the government, particularly in the Defense Department,” he said.
According to data from the White House, the number of classified leaks surged after Trump toRead More From Source