Donald Trump has denied he was briefed about Russian efforts to pay bounties to Taliban-linked fighters to kill US troops in Afghanistan.
British security officials told Sky News that reports about the plot to place bounties on the heads of coalition soldiers, also including UK forces, were true.
But, while lashing out at a New York Times report that first brought the story to prominence, the US president claimed intelligence officials had chosen not to tell him about it because they did not think the information was “credible”.
“Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians,” he said on Twitter, calling on the newspaper to name its anonymous source.
“Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us.”
He later tweeted: “Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP.”
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Mr Trump’s post tagged in the Twitter account for New York Times’ book section, apparently mistakenly.
The newspaper reported on Friday that US intelligence had concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit linked to assassination attempts in Europe had offered rewards for successful attacks last year on American and coalition soldiers.
It added that Islamist militants were believed to have collected some bounty money.
The White House and director of national intelligence had denied the report on Saturday, while Russia‘s foreign ministry also dismissed it.
The newspaper published another report on Sunday saying US intelligence and special operations forces in Afghanistan alerted superiors about the suspected plot as early as January.
The White House was expected to brief select members of Congress on the matter on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Intelligence officials told the news agency that Mr Trump had been briefed about the plot earlier this year.
A source briefed on the matter previously told Sky News the report was “on the nose”.
“This is another example of the moral vacuum the GRU (an arm of Russia’s military intelligence agency) operate in,” the source said.
“Offering rewards to attack soldiers who are trying to bring peace to a nation is repugnant.”
And Tobias Ellwood, chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee,told Sky News he was seeking an urgent question in the Commons on Monday about the alleged plot.
“I think it’s completely unacceptable that a fellow permanent member of the UN Security Council is now seen to be training and supplying arms to the very militia that has prevented peaceful conclusions to this decade-old conflict (in Afghanistan). “
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is among the so-called Gang of Eight lawmakers who receive frequent intelligence briefings, said she was not aware of the assessment and asked that Congress be briefed.
She said the report and Mr Trump’s subsequent denial were more evidence of the president ignoring allegations against Russia to accommodate President Vladimir Putin.
“There is something very wrong here. But this must have an answer,” she told ABC News.
“This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score, denies being briefed.”
She pointed out that Mr Trump has already supported the Russian leader by diminishing US leadership in NATO, reducing American forces in Germany and inviting Russia back into the G8.
And she was joined by House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff in questioning why, if the US president’s claims were true, he was not told about the bounty offer.
“If he was briefed and still wanted Russia back in the G-8, it’s even worse,” Mr Schiff tweeted.
Mr Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton told NBC News: “There’s obviously more to this story, but it is pretty remarkable the president’s going out of his way to say he hasn’t heard anything about it.”