While still working in the White House, former National Security Adviser John Bolton told colleagues that he briefed President Trump in March 2019 on an intelligence assessment indicating that Russia was offering bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops, U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence told The Associated Press.
At the time, the classified information was also included in at least one President's Daily Brief, a top-secret document that offers analysis on national security issues, AP reports. Officials told AP that the intelligence assessments did not appear to be urgent, and there was not enough information to form a plan or response. Bolton declined to comment to AP.
The New York Times, which first publicly disclosed the existence of the bounties on Friday, reported Monday night that several officials with knowledge of the matter said U.S. officials have focused their investigation on an April 2019 car bombing near Bagram Airfield that left three Marines dead. Two officials also said that in late February, Trump received a written briefing with the intelligence laid out to explain how it was determined that Russia offered and paid the bounties.
One of the officials gave a specific date for the briefing: Feb. 27. The assessment was considered solid enough that on May 4, it was included in an article in the CIA's daily publication, the World Intelligence Review, the Times reports. Trump has claimed he was never briefed on the plot, tweeting on Sunday night, "Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or [Vice President Mike Pence]. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!"