President Donald Trump was not briefed on allegations that Russia had paid Taliban fighters a bounty for killing U.S. troops because the claims were not corroborated, but if the intelligence turned out to be true, “we had options ready to go and the president was ready to take strong action, as he always is,” National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Wednesday.
“The intelligence communities did not have a consensus, and as a result, the president’s career CIA briefer decided not to brief him because it was unverified intelligence,” O’Brien said on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” “She is an outstanding officer, and knowing all the facts I know, I certainly support her decision.”
He added that because of the leaked information about the intelligence, it may become “impossible” to get to the bottom of the investigation into the matter “because someone decided to leak to hurt the president rather than uphold their obligations to the American people that they undertook when they became an intelligence officer or government employee.”
O’Brien said Trump is briefed on sensitive intelligence matters through meetings with him, the directors of national intelligence and the CIA, his briefer, and sometimes the vice president and chief of staff in the “first instance,” and after that, he and the chief of staff meet with the president several times a day, depending on breaking developments.
Meanwhile, the administration remains committed to the people of Afghanistan, and also to pulling U.S. troops out of there, O’Brien said.
He also insisted that the Russian military left Afghanistan “a long time ago,” but that Russia does have intelligence operatives there, as does the United States and many other countries.
“We are certainly going to do everything we can to counter the Russians,” he said.
“We are going to counter the Iranians and shown that more than anyone . . . but at the same time, we are going to bring our American men and women, servicemen and women home after 19 years of fighting in Afghanistan for sure.”