President Donald Trump has finally admitted that he never once raised the issue of Russia paying cash bounties to Taliban fighters who killed U.S. forces in Afghanistan with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios, the president was asked if he had confronted Putin on the matter when they recently spoke on the phone. Trump responded:
“I have never discussed it with him.”
When Swan asked why exactly Trump had failed to mention the issue to Putin, the president replied:
“That was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly that’s an issue that many people said was fake news.”
However, U.S. intelligence didn’t consider the matter to be “fake news,” with multiple officials noting that Russia has been actively helping Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan:
As recently as 2018, Gen. John Nicholson, who was at the time the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, accused Russia of providing money and arms to the Taliban, remarking, “We know that the Russians are involved.”
All of this would seem to raise more questions about why Trump has failed to confront Putin with the Russian bounty story, which was first reported by the New York Times in June.
The Times noted that the bounty payments were as high as $100,00 for every American solider killed by the Taliban.
And yet despite the evidence, the CIA and National Security Agency (NSA) contradicted each other on the Times report.
The Russia-Taliban connection has also been a subject of criticism from Democrats, including presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who has accused Trump of “dereliction of duty.”
In February, the U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban which will bring American involvement in Afghanistan to an end after almost two decades of conflict which was precipitated by Al Qaeda attacks on the U.S. mainland in September of 2001.
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