Psaki Pressed on Whether Biden Regrets Slamming Trump Over Reported Russian Bounties on US Troops


As a candidate, Joe Biden blasted then-President Donald Trump for not moving to punish Russia for reportedly paying Taliban fighters bounties to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

However, on Thursday, it was reported that U.S. intelligence agencies have “low-to-moderate confidence” in those reports.

During a press briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked if Biden regrets slamming Trump during the campaign.

“Well, I’m not going to speak to the previous administration,” Psaki responded.

She continued, “But I will say that we had enough concern about these reports and about the targeting of our men and women serving, the men and women who are proudly serving around the world, that we wanted our intelligence community to look into it.”

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Earlier in the briefing, Psaki noted that it is difficult to gather intelligence in Afghanistan which played a role in the “low-to-moderate” assessment of the reports of the reported bounties.

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In June 2020, The New York Times reported that Russian intelligence operatives offered bounties to Talibna-linked fighters to attack U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Biden slammed Trump for not taking action to punish Russia for alleged bounties.

During a virtual town hall event shortly after the Times’ report was published, Biden said, “Not only has he failed to sanction or impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin.”

He added, “His entire presidency has been a gift to Putin, but this is beyond the pale. It’s a betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation, to protect and equip our troops when we send them into harm’s way.”

However, on Thursday, a senior administration official told reporters that U.S. intelligence agencies have “low to moderate confidence” in the reports of Russian bounties on American troops because they are “based in part on detainee reporting and because of the difficult operating environment in Afghanistan.”

“There is an assessment that Russian intelligence officers did seek to encourage Taliban attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel, including through financial incentives and compensation,” the official said, adding, “But because of the low to moderate confidence element of this, our focus is on sending a clear message to Russia about the steps the United States would take in response to such behavior if it were to continue.”

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