Republican claims Russians were placing bounties on American heads in 2014 during Obama administration
Indiana lawmaker Jim Banks came up with the counterclaim when media outlets and opposition have accused Donald Trump of ignoring Russia's design
The allegation that the Donald Trump administration has done little to take steps against Russia even after it reportedly offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan is snowballing fast into a massive controversy. But in between the accusations, the Republican camp has made a counter-strike to bring in former president Barack Obama into the scenario. The coming days are set to witness a political slugfest between the two opposing camps after this.
On Monday, June 29, the White House held a briefing for the GOP members of the Congress about the intelligence report on Russia's bounty plot in the embattled Asian nation where the US is stuck militarily since 2001 when it conducted an attack in the wake of the 9/11 terror strikes. There, one of the lawmakers came up with a stunning claim that the plot may date back to the time when Obama was in charge of affairs.
Jim Banks, the 40-year-old representative from Indiana, tweeted after the briefing that the payments went back to his service days in Afghanistan. Banks was deployed in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom and the succeeding Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in 2014 and 2015 respectively, as per his official biography. It may be mentioned here that the Obama administration had a sour relation with Vladimir Putin's Russia around 2014-15 when Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
Banks call Trump toughest president on Russia
Banks posted a series of tweets after the briefing and in one of them, the Congressman said: "Having served in Afghanistan during the time the alleged bounties were placed, no one is angrier about this than me.” His main tweet read: "I just left the White House where I was briefed by CoS @MarkMeadows and top intelligence officials. They discussed @nytimes' hit piece falsely accusing @realDonaldTrump of ignoring reports that Russia placed bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan." This was retweeted by Trump.
The military veteran lashed out at The New York Times, which came up with a bombshell report claiming the Russian bounty plot last week, adding in the same tweet: "Now it’s impossible to finish the investigation. All b/c the @nytimes will do anything to damage @realdonaldtrump, even if it means compromising nat'l security." The NYT report indicated from the intelligence sources that the bounty story dated back to the 2018-19 period.
In another tweet in the same thread, Banks said: "Sad, but many in the media & Congress rushed to judgement before learning the whole story. We should treat anonymously sourced @nytimes stories about Russia w/ skepticism. Here's a fact: No President in my lifetime has been tougher on Russia than @realDonaldTrump." When asked about the dates specifically, Banks' spokesperson told Daily Mail that the GOP lawmaker couldn’t "confirm or deny specific dates" since the briefing was a classified one. Besides Bank, seven other Republican representatives were present at the briefing, according to an ABC News report.
The Congress members were briefed by John Ratcliffe, the director of National Intelligence; Robert O’Brien, national security adviser and Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff.