By Katherine Doyle |
White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said he stands by the decision not to brief President Trump on an alleged Russian plot offering bounties to Taliban fighters to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, saying the decision was made by a career, senior spy.
“The person who decided early on whether the president should be briefed on this in the Oval [Office] intelligence briefing was a career senior servant, a CIA officer, and she made that decision because she didn’t have the confidence in the intelligence that came up,” O’Brien told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday. “She made that call, and you know what, she made the right call. And knowing the facts I know now, I stand behind that call.”
O’Brien said that the CIA had filed a “crimes report” with the Department of Justice over the leak, which he said made investigating the intelligence more challenging.
“The story is we did everything right,” O’Brien said. He listed measures he said targeted Russia, such as sending Ukraine anti-tank Javelin missiles, imposing sanctions on oil giant Rosneft, and the decision to withdraw the United States from the Open Skies Arms Control Treaty with Russia. “There’s no one tougher on the Russians.”
O’Brien said Trump was a “ferocious consumer of intelligence.”
The New York Times reported Friday that U.S. intelligence concluded that Russian operatives offered Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan bounties to kill U.S. and coalition troops as the Trump administration sought to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban and Afghan government. Further reporting said Trump was briefed on the details and that the National Security Council considered potential responses during a March interagency meeting.
Trump said on Sunday that he was briefed on the plot that night, after the New York Times report, and that officials did not believe the intelligence to be “credible.”
“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP,” Trump wrote on Twitter, adding that it was “possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks wanting to make Republicans look bad!!”
The law punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, will see mainland security agencies in Hong Kong for the first time and allows extradition to the mainland for trial.
China’s parliament adopted the law in response to protests last year triggered by fears that Beijing was stifling the city’s freedoms, guaranteed by a “one country, two systems” formula agreed when it returned to Chinese rule. Beijing denies the accusation.
“You are displaying flags or banners/chanting slogans/or conducting yourselves with an intent such as secession or subversion, which may constitute offences under the … national security law,” police said in a message displayed on a purple banner.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few “troublemakers” and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investors’ interests.
Source: Washington Examiner