The White House threw fuel on the fire of the rapidly escalating Russian bounty scandal this afternoon when Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that the President did not have a “specific message for Moscow” in the wake of astonishing reports that allege Russia is paying bounties to Taliban members for killing American servicemen in Afghanistan.
Instead, she claimed that he had “not been briefed” and that there was “dissent” within the intelligence community about the reports. But as many commentators were quick to point out, the President had already said that the intel was “not credible” in a tweet on Saturday in a transparent and laughable attempt to exonerate himself.
Question: Does the President have a specific message for Moscow?
Kayleigh: No because he has not been briefed. pic.twitter.com/8Ah818gsIh
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) June 29, 2020
It either is not credible or there’s no consensus — it can’t be both. On top of that, intelligence does not have to be confirmed for the president to have been briefed about it, especially for something as alarming as a rival nation putting out bounties on our soldiers.
Trump yesterday: Russian bounty intel not credible.
White House today: “no consensus” on the intel, “dissent” within the intelligence community.
Both of those cannot be true. https://t.co/jjPc9AaqhI
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) June 29, 2020
Social media immediately erupted in an outrage over the tepid response from the administration.
This should be easy: “The president’s first job is to protect the American people. He takes these allegations extremely seriously and we will act appropriately against any credible threat to our personnel.” Instead we get meaningless doublespeak. https://t.co/zODTJpOckX
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) June 29, 2020
This guy can retweet racist videos, play two rounds of golf and he still hasn't been briefed??? We need a new president! https://t.co/eBayz0Qixg
— Mark Elliott (@markmobility) June 29, 2020
Not even days after this story emerged? It’s reported that Russia was trying to kill American soldier and Trump doesn’t demand a briefing? Come on, GOPers, isn’t this treasonously absurd? https://t.co/ht7COo2PTW
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) June 29, 2020
This is NOT how it works. Intelligence is rarely “verified,” and this is just another canard to protect Trump.
E.g., some assessed the intel placing Bin Ladin in Abbottabad was about a 50-50 proposition. Trump’s predecessor, nevertheless, engaged deeply with it, as I recall. https://t.co/hitWiz7GEB
— Ned Price (@nedprice) June 29, 2020
— Dena Grayson, MD, PhD (@DrDenaGrayson) June 29, 2020
this is part and parcel with "if you don't test you have no cases." motherfucker just wants to play golf and hold hate rallies. he could give a fuck about the rest of it and the rest of us. https://t.co/04t9pADdGB
— Russ Bengtson (@russbengtson) June 29, 2020
At the risk of sounding picky, didn't Trump say last night that "intel" had "just reported" to him on this? That made it sound as if there'd been a briefing – though McEnany today suggested the opposite. https://t.co/l8Ypht0yqj
— Steve Benen (@stevebenen) June 29, 2020