The president has not identified which officials in the administration of former President George W. Bush have spoken out against Russia’s alleged accounts, which came to light last month after the New York Times first reported that U.S. intelligence officials had concluded that the Kremlin’s military intelligence unit offered to pay in Afghanistan Taliban-linked militants are killing American and other coalition forces.
Top administration officials have unequally explained how Trump was informed about the payments, but earlier this month POLITICO reported that the White House had told Congress lawmakers that intelligence had been included in the president’s daily written statement in late February.
Trump̵7;s remarks on Tuesday show the White House’s first confirmation that he had not discussed money when he spoke to Putin last Thursday.
According to a White House call, the two leaders spoke of “efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and further revitalize the global economy,” as well as “critical bilateral and global challenges.”
The brief also “reiterated its hope to avoid a costly arms race between China, Russia and the United States and hopes for progress in the forthcoming Vienna arms control talks,” the White House said.
On Tuesday, Trump said he and Putin “called to talk about nuclear proliferation, which is a very big topic where they would like to do something like me. We discussed a lot of things. “
But about Russia’s alleged payments, Trump said, “I never talked to him, no. I would like. I have no problem with that. “
Both White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany and the president have declined in recent days to comment on whether the sums came up in Trump-Putin’s last conversation.
In a White House statement last Friday, McEnany told reporters that she was not being approached and that blessing intelligence had “not yet been tested,” saying there were “differing views” within the inner community.
“We’re not talking about what we’re discussing, but we’ve had a lot of discussions, and I think it has been very productive,” Trump said Monday in an interview with Putin during a visit to a vaccine plant in North Carolina.
Asked about US intelligence that Russia in supplying arms to the Taliban, Trump justified the Kremlin’s alleged weapons program by referring to U.S. support for Afghan fighters during the Soviet war in the 1980s.
“Well, we supplied weapons when they were also fighting Russia. You know when they fought the Taliban in Afghanistan, “Trump said.
Trump said he had not been formally introduced to intelligence suggesting that Russia was arming the Taliban, according to Trump, a former commander of the U.S.-led and NATO-led international force in Afghanistan, the outgoing army general John W. Nicholson.
“I’m just saying we did,” he continued. “I don’t know. I didn’t listen to that Nicholson. He’s been there for a long time. He was unlucky because, you know, he was there in front of me. And finally I made a change.”
The brief added that he had “heard” that Russia was arming Taliban fighters, but said: “Again, this has never reached my table.”
The assimilation of President Russia’s activities in Afghanistan to the actions of the U.S. government is reminiscent of other statements Trump made in defense of Putin’s authoritarian regime.
When in 2015 Asked about the high-level killings of several journalists criticizing the Russian leader, Trump told MSNBC in memory: “Well, I think our country is killing a lot too.”
After former Fox News journalist Bill O’Reilly interviewed the president in 2017. Describing Putin as a “killer,” Trump replied, “You have many killers. Do you think our country is so innocent? “