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U.S. Republicans, Democrats want to question Trump aides over Russia bounty reports

By Reuters 29 June 2020
Caption
epa06895349 US President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks to members of the news media while meeting with members of Congress in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 17 July 2018. President Trump has received bipartisan criticism for his handling of a news conference with President of Russia Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, 16 July. Critics accuse Trump of failing to stand up to the Russian leader and betraying US intelligence agencies by publicly casting doubt on their findings. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

WASHINGTON, June 29 (Reuters) - Both Democrats and President Donald Trump's fellow Republicans in Congress demanded more information from the White House on Monday after reports that Russian military intelligence offered militants bounties for killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

By Patricia Zengerle

“Congress and the country need answers now. I therefore request an interagency brief for all House Members immediately,” Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and CIA Director Gina Haspel.

“The questions that arise are: was the President briefed, and if not, why not, and why was Congress not briefed?” Pelosi wrote.

Representative Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, joined the panel’s chairman, Democratic Representative Adam Smith, in asking the Department of Defense for a briefing.

“The American people – and our service members – deserve to know the truth about what the White House knew about these Russian operations that may have directly resulted in the deaths of American service members,” Smith said.

Thornberry told reporters on Monday that any delay “will not be acceptable.”

Seven Republican House members, including Thornberry and Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, attended a meeting at the White House on the issue on Monday afternoon.

There was no word on whether the administration would brief more lawmakers or any non-Republicans.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called for an immediate briefing for all 100 senators.

Trump has dismissed the reports as “fake news” and took to Twitter to suggest the reports were being spread by media outlets trying to make Republicans look bad.

Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican acting intelligence committee chairman, declined to comment on the reports, saying on Twitter the committee would “continue to conduct vigorous oversight” of threats facing the United States.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Franklin Paul and Dan Grebler)

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