Donald Trump told Axios reporter Jonathan Swan that he never brought up U.S. intelligence reports that Russia offered secret bounties to Taliban-linked militants for the scalps of American troops when he spoke with Russian president Vladimir Putin in a recent phone call.
According to reports, Trump has known about the bounties since March 2019 but has taken no action in retaliation.
“That was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly that’s an issue that many people said was fake news,” said Trump.
Swan spoke with Morning Joe about the interview, and said that the more shocking part of it is the second portion: “The second question is actually more important, which is, fine, you don’t believe this intelligence, or you’re skeptical of it. Let’s try and take the most good-faith interpretation of it. But you know that Russia has been supplying weapons and money to the Taliban because the man who ran your forces in Afghanistan, John Nicholson, under your administration, said this on the record when he worked for you, and for him to say then, well, I didn’t — I don’t know if I’ve heard about this, never reached my desk, and by the way, we gave them weapons, too. … I mean, like in a different era. I just — honestly, it was one of the most shocking — I’ve covered president Trump for five years. I think it’s one of the most shocking exchanges I’ve ever had with him.”