President Donald Trump is admitting he has “never” talked with President Vladimir Putin about Russia’s bounty program that pays the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers, because “many people” claimed it was fake. He also claims the intelligence never reached his desk.
“That was an issue that many people said was ‘fake news,’” Trump told Axios’ Jonathan Swan in a sit down interview in the White House released Wednesday. When pressed on who, Trump replied, “I think a lot of people,” specifying “some of the wonderful folks from the Bush administration.”
On Thursday Trump was asked if he challenged Putin on the bounty program and the President said he would not reveal the topics of discussion. “We don’t talk about what we discussed, but we had plenty of discussion.”
But when Swan pressed Trump he not only admitted he did not address the topic of cash for killing Americans, he revealed the two presidents spoke about “nuclear proliferation,” which Trump went on to falsely claim is “a bigger problem than global warming.” The Dept. of Defense has repeatedly called climate change one of the greatest threats.
The intelligence on Russia’s bounty program “never reached my desk, you know why? Because they didn’t think – intelligence – because they didn’t think it was real,” Trump claimed, which is reportedly false. Trump’s National Security Advisor at the time, John Bolton, has said he briefed Trump on the bounty program. The intelligence community was not in complete agreement on the program, but to say they didn’t think it was real is false.
The New York Times reported Trump was briefed on the bounty program on February 27.
“If it reached my desk I would have done something about it,” Trump claimed. The president has had numerous telephone conversations with foreign leaders that White House sources say he does not prepare for and has no agenda.
Trump also falsely characterized his intelligence briefings, which he called “meetings,” as “usually once a day, at least two or three times a week.” Trump has had just four “daily” intelligence briefings in the month of July.
NEW: President Trump tells @jonathanvswan on #AxiosOnHBO that he didn’t raise the issue of alleged bounties on U.S. troops during his call with Vladimir Putin last week: “That was a phone call to discuss other things.” pic.twitter.com/daISvMFUE1
— Axios (@axios) July 29, 2020
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