Trump ‘not briefed’ on Russian plot to kill US troops
US President Donald Trump has adamantly denied that he and Vice President Mike Pence had been briefed about a bounty Russia allegedly paid the Taliban to kill US forces in Afghanistan, backing up earlier White House claims that the two were unaware.
"Nobody briefed or told me, @VPPence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an 'anonymous source by the Fake News @nytimes. Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us," Mr Trump posted on Twitter, according to a report in the New York Post.
"Nobody's been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine - Where's Hunter?" he continued.
"Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their 'source'?"
He called on the newspaper to reveal its source, but added that "this 'person' probably does not even exist!"
The New York Times reported on the bounties last Friday and claimed the president was made aware about the situation and was discussed in late March by the White House's National Security Council.
...Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine - Where’s Hunter? Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their “source”?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2020
The report said several options were weighed - including sanctions and a complaint to be made via diplomatic channel - but the White House had yet to authorise any response.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe released statements over the weekend saying that Mr Trump and Mr Pence had not been briefed.
Ms McEnany's statement commented on the "inaccuracy of The New York Times story erroneously suggesting that President Trump was briefed on this matter."
Mr Trump, in a third tweet, criticised how Joe Biden and the Obama administration handled Russia relations.
"Funny to see Corrupt Joe Biden reading a statement on Russia, which was obviously written by his handlers. Russia ate his and Obama's lunch during their time in office, so badly that Obama wanted them out of the then G-8. US was weak on everything, but especially Russia!" he said.
Mr Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, blasted Mr Trump for failing to protect American troops.
"His entire presidency has been a gift to Putin, but this is beyond the pale," the former vice president said at a virtual town hall, referring to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
"It's a betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation, to protect and equip our troops when we send them into harm's way."
Former President Barack Obama and other members of the Group of 8 industrialised nations ousted Russia from the association in 2014 following Mr Putin's illegal annexation of Crimea.
Mr Trump, who is hosting this year's meeting of the G-7, has proposed inviting Russia to September's expected gathering.
TRUMP DELETES 'WHITE POWER' VIDEO
Mr Trump has deleted a video he retweeted showing one of his supporters in Florida shouting "white power" at protesters, drawing an immediate rebuke from the only African-American Republican in the Senate.
The video shows Trump protesters and supporters shouting profanities at each other. After a protester calls a Trump supporter a racist, the man responds by raising his fist and shouting "white power".
The slogan is often used by white supremacists.
In his tweet, Mr Trump wrote "Thank you to the great people of The Villages".
"There's no question that he should not have retweeted it and he should just take it down," US Senator Tim Scott said on US TV.
"It was so profanity-laced, the entire thing was offensive. Certainly, the comment about the white power was offensive," the South Carolina Republican added.
"It's indefensible. We should take it down."
White House spokesman Judd Deere said the president "is a big fan of The Villages (a retirement community in Florida where the video was filmed)".
"He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters."
The tweet comes on the heels of Mr Trump's hostile response to protests against racial injustice engulfing the US following the death of George Floyd. African-American man Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes in Minneapolis.
Mr Trump has been accused of racism by politicians for his tweets in the past, including for attacks on black politicians and for telling four congresswomen they should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came".
ROLLING STONES THREATEN TO SUE TRUMP
Meanwhile, British music legends, the Rolling Stones, are threatening Mr Trump with legal action for using their songs at his rallies despite cease-and-desist directives.
The Stones said in a statement on Sunday (local time) that their legal team is working with music rights organisation BMI to stop use of their material in Mr Trump's re-election campaign.
"The BMI have notified the Trump campaign on behalf of the Stones that the unauthorised use of their songs will constitute a breach of its licensing agreement," the Stones said.
"If Donald Trump disregards the exclusion and persists, then he would face a lawsuit for breaking the embargo and playing music that has not been licensed."
The Trump campaign team has yet to comment on the matter. The Stones had complained during Mr Trump's 2016 campaign about the use of their music to fire up his conservative base at rallies.
The Rolling Stones' 1969 classic You Can't Always Get What You Want was a popular song for his events. It was played again at the close of Mr Trump's recent rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma - an indoor event criticised for its potential to spread the coronavirus.
The music rights organisation BMI has informed the Trump campaign that if it plays Stones music again at an event, it will be in breach of its licensing agreement, the statement said. Other artists have also complained about having their music associated with Mr Trump's events.
The family of the late rock musician Tom Petty said that it had issued a cease-and-desist order after Mr Trump used the song I Won't Back Down in Tulsa.
"Trump was in no way authorised to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense behind," the statement said.
"Both the late Tom Petty and his family firmly stand against racism and discrimination of any kind. Tom Petty would never want a song of his to be used in a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together."
Grammy Award-winning musician Neil Young lashed out at Mr Trump in 2018 after hearing one of his songs played against his wishes during Mr Trump's pre-midterm campaign rallies. The Canadian-born musician admonished Mr Trump for using his 1990 single, Rockin' in the Free World, despite earlier warnings.
Originally published as Trump 'not briefed' on Russian plot to kill US troops