President Trump has never confronted Vladimir Putin with intelligence indicating Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. troops, he told “Axios on HBO” in an interview on Tuesday.
Why it matters: Democrats have seized on the issue, and Trump’s reluctance to discuss it, as evidence he’s unwilling to challenge Putin even when American lives are at stake.
- Trump spoke with Putin on Thursday, and subsequently deflected a question about whether he’d raised the alleged bounty scheme, saying on Monday: “We don’t talk about what we discussed, but we had plenty of discussion.”
In Tuesday’s interview, he was definitive:
“I have never discussed it with him.”
Pressed on why he didn’t raise the matter in Thursday’s call, he said: “That was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly that’s an issue that many people said was fake news.”
- Trump has spoken to Putin at least eight times since intelligence about the alleged Russian bounties was reportedly included in the President’s Daily Brief — his written intelligence briefing — in late February.
- Trump’s team says he was not verbally briefed on the matter before a June 26 reportfrom the New York Times brought the controversy out into the open.