18:27 GMT06 July 2020
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    White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany attacked the sources behind a recent New York Times story alleging Russian intelligence had paid Taliban fighters to kill US soldiers, saying the disclosure of classified information undermines US national security.

    “The front page of the New York Times is not the venue for discussing classified information,” McEnany told reporters on Tuesday. "You may seek to undermine this president, but in fact you undermine our nation's" security and safety.

    "These are rogue intelligence officers who are imperiling our troops' lives," she added.

    The secretary further noted that US President Donald Trump "has been briefed on what's unfortunately in the public domain" and is "prepared to act" against Russia if the reports turn out to be true.

    The story emerged on Friday after the New York Times reported that intelligence garnered from prisoner interrogations in Afghanistan had pointed to Russian intelligence operatives paying bounties to Taliban militants for assassinations of US soldiers in the country.

    Moscow has denied the accusations, and US intelligence and defense officials have indicated that while senior White House officials might have known about the unverified reports, Trump had never been briefed on them.

    "Because the allegations in recent press articles have not been verified or substantiated by the intelligence community, President Trump had not been briefed on the items," White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said in a Monday statement. "Nevertheless, the Administration, including the National Security Council staff, have been preparing, should the situation warrant action."

    McEnany said on Tuesday that Trump "was never briefed on this. This intelligence still has not been verified." However, when a reporter asked about the rumor that Trump ignores the daily press briefings, the secretary shot back: "the president does read and he also consumes intelligence verbally. This president is the most informed person on planet Earth when it comes to the threats that we face."

    "What is briefed to the president is when there's a strategic decision to be made," she said. "So, in this case if there was a strategic decision to be made vis-a-vis Russia ... it was not briefed to the president ... it was not credible."

    Related:

    New York Times Never Reached Out to Russian Embassy for Comment on Bounties Story, Envoy Says
    US Should Consider Imposing More Sanctions on Russia Over Bounty Allegations, Schiff Says
    Afghanistan Bounty Reports 'Lie' Aimed at Disrupting US-Russia Cooperation, Russian Envoy to US Says
    Tags:
    intelligence, Taliban, White House Office of the Press Secretary, Donald Trump, Russia
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