Donald Trump has been briefed on intelligence that Russia offered bounties to Taliban members for the killing of British and American troops in Afghanistan, the White House confirmed, as it attacked the New York Times for revealing the information.
US intelligence reports indicating the Russian military had offered to pay bounties to Taliban-linked fighters were first revealed by the New York Times on Friday, and have since been supported by reports from several other US news outlets.
The reports prompted criticism of Mr Trump, with Democrats accusing the US president of failing to retaliate against Russia.
Mr Trump’s aides initially said he had not been briefed on the intelligence reports and insisted the sources had not been verified, but the political fallout from the reporting has forced the White House to brief members of Congress on the intelligence.
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, called a briefing on Tuesday to publicly rebuke the New York Times for its reporting, accusing it of damaging “our ability to collect intelligence”.
“Which allies will want to share information with us if they know that some rogue intelligence officer can go splash that information on the front page of a major US newspaper?”
“You undermine our country’s safety and our security,” she said, adding: “This discord plays directly into the hands of Russia and serves their interest”.