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Pompeo: U.S. intel agencies handled Russian bounty assessments 'appropriately'

Pompeo said Russia undercutting the U.S. in the almost 19-year Taliban insurgency 'is nothing new'

Updated: July 1, 2020 - 1:48pm

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that U.S. spy agencies responded "appropriately" to intelligence on that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-backed fighters to kill U.S. service members in Afghanistan, adding that Congress has long been aware of Russia undercutting the U.S. in the Taliban-led insurgency.

“We took this seriously, we handled it appropriately. The Russians have been selling small arms that have put Americans at risk there for 10 years. We’ve objected to it … When I meet with my Russian counterparts, I talk with them about this each time. ‘Stop this,'” Pompeo said at a press conference.

He also accused journalists of spreading misinformation about whether President Donald Trump should have been told about Russian bounties, saying such public discussions put American soldiers at risk.

“A lot of what you said suggests knowledge that I don’t think you actually have,” Pompeo told one reporter who asked about the Russian bounties. “I’m not going to put at risk the young men and women of Afghanistan in the same way that some news organizations have done. … And you ought not be part of that,” he told another reporter.

Trump continued to play down the assessments and insist he wasn’t briefed on the matter because the intelligence didn’t rise to his level.