Trump commits another stupidity, claims that the “Russia Bounty story” is a “hoax” and “fake news”!

How stupid is this? Trump called the coronavirus a hoax, too. How well did that work out for him?

The same will be true of his calling the “Russia Bounty story” a hoax. His political advisers must be soiling their pants over this. 1/23

Note to Trump: a story doesn’t become a hoax simply because it is used by your political opponents against you. In fact, it is, over time, only true stories that can cause real damage, and this story is most definitely not a hoax! 2/23

WAPO published an update on the Russia-Taliban contract killing story last night that carries the “Russia bounty story” forward in ways that are extremely damaging to the Administration. 3/23

First of all, it confirms that field reports from Afghanistan did reach DC and the WH in early 2019. WAPO reports that there were several discussions at the time with “members of the National Security” staff in response to the intel, 4/23

and that instructions were given to the intelligence community and the U.S. Central Command to “find out more” about the bounty reports before proposing any action be taken. 5/23

WAPO says it is unclear whether Bolton — the National Security Adviser, and therefore Trump’s principal natsec adviser at the time, and who undoubtedly would have been part of those early discussions — relayed the information to Trump. 6/23

WAPO can say that is “unclear” only because Bolton has so far declined to comment on the story. But in reality it’s not unclear at all. The simplest answer to the question whether he briefed Trump would be to say NO if the answer is NO, but Bolton has not done so. 7/23

And in fact, if you read his book, you will understand that it is inconceivable that Bolton wouldn’t have told Trump about something potentially this serious. And AP has reported that Bolton *has* told colleagues and friends that he did so. End of story. 8/23

When WAPO discusses later developments, the story becomes even more damaging for Trump. We learn that in late March of *this* year, after a restricted, high-level meeting at the White House, the CIA was tasked with assessing *new* information that had reached Washington. 9/23

One former official — presumably CIA — said that there was a significant amount of intelligence and that it left little doubt among those examining it that Russia was targeting American forces. 10/23

(This confirms earlier reporting by WAPO — on June 28 — that “By the end of the process, the intelligence community was confident in its assessment.” No wonder, as PLAYBOOK reported yesterday, Congressional Dems want to hear from CIA Director Haspel herself.) 11/23

WAPO also reports that in May the new intel was included for broader distribution in The Wire, a regular CIA compendium of intelligence reports, which may be accessed by other agencies as well as certain congressional officials. 12/23

As for today’s news. Pompeo was questioned about the Russia bounty story at a press conference this morning. Pompeo avoided answering the questions in any satisfactory way, because he did not want to divulge what intel the government had on the matter. 13/23

However, it is clear from his remarks that there was sufficient intel for State and other agencies to take significant defensive actions — and not just out of an abundance of caution, either. Significantly, though, Pompeo gave no indication that Trump was informed. 14/23

(Just to be clear, Pompeo said today that Trump was not informed that we had taken significant defensive action in response to intel that Russia had arranged contract killings of American soldiers in Afghanistan, but this was not deemed to be appropriate or important enough to tell Trump.) 15/23

Pompeo even declined to say whether he had discussed the issue of the contract killing arrangements with Russia in any of the frequent communications he has with them. 16/23

Incredibly, Pompeo didn’t even rule out allowing Russian back into the G7 (!!), saying that this was Trump’s decision to make. If Trump makes that decision, Pompeo said, it would be justified by the need to talk to the Russians (!) — 17/23

even though Pompeo acknowledged that we’re talking to them now, when Russia isn’t in the G7. (Russia was expelled because of its unlawful takeover of Crimea and military aggression and interference in Ukraine — not because we no longer felt the need to talk to them.) 18/23

O’Brien, the current NSA, took a very similar line to Pompeo’s today. Again, the claim was that strong and appropriate action had been taken to protect American troops and other assets — which of course means that he and other natsec officials deemed the intel credible. 19/23

That, of course, raises the question why Trump was not informed. O’Brien says that the decision not to do so was made by the CIA’s daily briefer of the president. 20/23

O’Brien alleged today that she decided not to brief Trump orally because “she didn’t have the confidence in the intelligence that came up.”

But as critics have pointed out, that is not her call to make, and the intel was included in the written brief. 21/23

And it doesn’t comport with what we already know, that at some point (we don’t know exactly when) the CIA was confident in its assessment that the GRU did make such an arrangement with the Taliban. 22/23

And yet today Trump has tweeted and told Fox News in an interview that the whole “Russia Bounty story” is a hoax!

For the gang at @LincolnProject and the Biden campaign, Trump is a political attack ad maker’s dream come true. Get ready for it, Donald. 23/23

The Resistance. Vote Blue: True Blue American. We look forward, they look back. We’re progressive, they’re regressive. @twoodiac