Rep. Moulton on Russia bounties: ‘This is treasonous behavior’ from Trump

'If this is not treason, I don't know what it is,' says Moulton, a former Marine Corps officer who ran for president in the 2020 Democratic primary

Updated: July 1, 2020 - 10:42am

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Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton said Wednesday that President Trump has committed “treason” with his handling of intelligence on Russia allegedly paying the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Trump referred to reports in The New York Times and other news outlets that said the intelligence was part of a written briefing he was given in February as a “hoax.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that Trump was "never briefed" on the intelligence. "This intelligence still has not been verified, and there is no consensus among the intelligence community."

Moulton, a former Marine Corps officer, called on Republican leaders to stop defending Trump on the Russia bounties.

“You might as well stand up and defend Russia herself because that's what you're doing when you cover for someone who aids and abets our enemy through selfish, silent, criminal complicity and undebatable, dereliction of duty. If this is not treasonous behavior, I don't know what is,” Moulton said during a conference call with other members of the House Democratic Caucus National Security Task Force.

“Stop ignoring it or defending it and find an ounce of political courage, an ounce of patriotism, an ounce of that oath we all took to our Constitution and for once stand up, not for your Republican Party leaders, but for our troops and for our country,” he continued.

Moulton, who ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, elaborated on his “treasonous behavior” comment and doubled down on his argument.

“What I'm saying is that if this does not count as treason I don't know what does. If this is not treason, I don't know what it is and I am absolutely saying that if the most junior officer in the United States military ignored an intelligence report delivered to him or her, as we know this intelligence report was delivered to our commander-in-chief, then that junior officer would absolutely be in prison,” Moulton also said. “This is undebatable dereliction of duty and what's going on today is just selfish silence on his part. I don't know that there's much to clarify there, but I hope that re-emphasizes what I already said."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday that he left a White House briefing with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and other White House officials with the "impression" that Trump was not briefed on Russians putting bounties on the heads of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

He called for the U.S. intelligence community to conduct a "full briefing" to give lawmakers their "assessment" of the "credibility of this information" about the Russian bounties. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, one of the eight lawmakers in Congress with access to classified intelligence briefings, said it was "unacceptable" for someone to selectively leak intelligence on alleged Russian bounties to the media to "play games.”


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