The president did not identify which members of the former George W. Bush administration had spoken out about Russia’s alleged rewards, which came to light last month after the New York Times reported for the first time that US intelligence officials had closed a Kremlin military intelligence unit offered to pay in Afghanistan. Taliban to kill US troops and other coalition forces there.
Top officials have irregular explanations of the extent to which Trump was informed of the remuneration, but POLITICO reported earlier this month that the White House had told congressional lawmakers that the relevant intelligence service had been written in the president̵7;s newspaper in late February.
Trump’s remarks Tuesday marks the White House’s first public confirmation that he did not talk about rewards when he spoke to Putin last Thursday.
According to a White House call, two leaders spoke of “efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic in continuing to open up global economies” as well as “critical bilateral and global issues.”
Trump also “reiterated his hope to avoid an expensive three-way arms race between China, Russia and the United States and looks forward to progress in the upcoming arms control talks in Vienna,” the White House said.
On Tuesday, Trump said he and Putin “talked about nuclear proliferation, which is a very big topic in which they would like to do something, and so would I. We discussed many things. “
But as for the alleged Russian rewards, Trump said: “I never talked to him about it, no. I would. I do not have a problem with that. “
Both White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the president have declined in recent days to comment on whether rewards have come in the last conversation between Trump and Putin.
At a briefing in the White House last Friday, McEnany informed reporters that she was not on alert and that the reward for the reward “is still unverified to this day,” claiming that there are “dissenting opinions” in the intelligentsia.
“We are not talking about what we are discussing, but we have had a lot of discussions and I think it has been very productive,” Trump said in an interview with Putin on Monday during a visit to a vaccine plant in North Carolina.
He asked about US intelligence about Russia supplying Taliban weapons, Trump justified the Kremlin’s alleged weapons program by referring to the support of Afghan fighters from the United States during the war in the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
“We supplied weapons when they also fought against Russia. You know when they fought the Taliban in Afghanistan, “Trump said.
Trump suggested that he was not formally informed of intelligence services indicating that Russia was arming the Taliban – intelligence approved by Trump’s former commander of the US-led and armed forces in Afghanistan, former Army General John W. Nicholson.
“I’m just saying we did it too,” he continued. “I don’t know. I didn’t ask Nicholson about it. He’s been there a long time. He hasn’t been very successful because, you know, he was here before me. And I finally made a change.”
Trump added that he “heard” Russia armed Taliban fighters, but said, “I will never get it again.”
The president’s comparison of Russian activity to Afghanistan to US government action is reminiscent of other statements made by Trump in clear defense of Putin’s authoritarian regime.
When he was asked to assassinate several journalists in 2015 who were critical of the Russian leader, he said to Trump unforgettably: “Well, I think our country is also killing a lot.”
And after former Fox News journalist Bill O’Reilly described Putin as a “killer” in an interview with the president in 2017, Trump replied, “You have a lot of killers. What do you think our country is so innocent? “