Over the weekend, the stunning and disturbing news broke that Donald Trump has known since late March that Russia offered secret bounties to Taliban-linked militants if they killed American troops in Afghanistan, but has taken no action. Late Sunday, the New York Times added to that scoop, revealing that U.S. intelligence knew about the bounties as early as January.
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, former RNC Chair Michael Steele was asked if Trump thinks we’re “stupid” enough to believe that he was out of the loop. Trump and vice president Mike Pence denied knowing about the bounties.
Said Steele: “I will take up that challenge and say they did brief him. I do not believe that something as important and severe as this was left untold to the president of the United States. What I think is disturbing is his reaction to it once he was told: the fact that there has been nothing done. There has been no rebuke officially from the United States and the fact that the White House, even over the course of the president’s tweets still has not denied the underlying intelligence, that this is, in fact, what happened and this is, in fact, what we do know and the reality of it is, the president tweets that this is something to make Republicans look bad. No, this is something that makes you look bad.”
“This is a bounty placed on the heads of American soldiers, you are the commander in chief, alright?” Steele added. “So this isn’t about politics. This is about what you do as the leader of men and women in uniform who now find out that you are okay with a bounty on their head by our adversary. So this is what he’s going to have to account for — he can’t spin this out. There may be some Republicans who will run to his defense, that will be curious to watch.”