McEnany rebukes Pelosi over response to alleged US troop bounties report
WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday upbraided House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for “playing politics” with an explosive report that alleged Moscow paid the Taliban to kill US soldiers.
In an interview with “Fox & Friends,” McEnany accused Pelosi of being “entirely off-base” after the San Francisco Democrat, 80, claimed that the president failed to act on the intelligence because the Russian government had incriminating information on him.
“This president has been very tough on Russia, sanctioning a new Russian target, closing Russian consulates, so she’s just off-base on her facts there,” McEnany said, insisting that the president was never briefed on the intelligence which was reported by the New York Times Friday.
“What she’s doing, she’s taking a report based on anonymous sourcing that was just dead wrong. The New York Times was wrong, believe it or not, and she’s politicizing it,” she continued.
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Pelosi suggested that “all roads lead back to Putin,” referring to the Russian dictator with who Trump has developed a controversial relationship.
“I don’t know what the Russians have on the president, politically, personally, financially, or whatever it is, but he wants to ignore, he wants to bring them back to the G8 despite the annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine,” the speaker said.
Pelosi, a member of Congress’ bipartisan Gang of Eight which receives classified intelligence briefings, said lawmakers had been left in the dark by the White House and the nation’s spy agencies and demanded answers.
“This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score, denies being briefed,” she said.
Trump tweeted Sunday that neither he nor Vice President Mike Pence was briefed on the alleged Russian bounty — and later said the reason they weren’t briefed is because intelligence officials didn’t find the report credible.
“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP,” the president tweeted. “Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!”
Capitol Hill Republicans as well as Democrats want to get to the bottom of the Russia allegations.
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming tweeted Sunday morning that if the reports in The Times about the bounties were true, then the White House needed to explain what it knew about the intelligence and how it responded.
And staunch Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) urged the administration to tell Congress what it knows about Russia’s efforts to pay bounties to kill American soldiers.
“I expect the Trump Administration to take such allegations seriously and inform Congress immediately as to the reliability of these news reports,” tweeted Graham, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee and is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The White House is expected to brief lawmakers sometime Monday about the allegations, which the Taliban and Russia have both denied.
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