House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Sunday that she’s unclear as to what “the Russians have on” President Trump, but added that it must have swayed his administration not to take action after U.S. intelligence learned that Moscow spies offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill U.S. troops.
Pelosi said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that throughout Trump’s presidency he has ignored allegations against misdeeds committed by Russia, but that the new reports on bounties “is as bad as it gets.”
“This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score, denies being briefed,” Pelosi said. “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 G-8 despite the annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine.”
The New York Times first reported over the weekend that American intelligence officials have determined a Russian military unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces, including targeting American troops. The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post also reported on the Kremlin's effort to orchestrate attacks on Western troops.
The Times reported that President Trump and the White House's National Security Council were briefed on Russia's bounty rewards in late March. They discussed an appropriate response, ranging from making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and economic sanctions, but the White House had not yet authorized a response.
The White House said Saturday that Trump was not briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence, but didn't confirm or deny the underlying reporting that Russia was giving out rewards to attack U.S. soldiers.
Trump on Sunday added his own denial of being briefed, saying in a tweet that neither he nor Pence or White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows had been notified of the bounties, and questioned the veracity and sourcing of the New York Times’ article.
Pelosi did not question that Trump was not briefed on the matter, but wondered why U.S. intelligence officials had decided not to tell the president.
“What does that say about the concern that those who briefed the president have about not going anywhere near the Russia issue with this president?” she said.
When asked about what evidence she has that Russia has compromising information on Trump, Pelosi said that the president’s past denials of wrongdoing on the part of Moscow are all the evidence she needs.
“How … else would you explain his refusal to even – to ignore again and again the intelligence that puts right at the Russian doorstep?”
“Now, he's saying this is fake news,” she added. “Why would he say that? Why wouldn't he say, let's look into it and see what this is?”