Joe Biden criticized President Donald Trump on Saturday for failing to respond to intelligence reports that Russia put a bounty on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan.
The presumptive Democratic nominee called it a “betrayal” of Trump’s duty as commander-in-chief that he did nothing after receiving intelligence reports that Russia paid Taliban radicals to kill GIs.
“This is beyond the pale. It’s a betrayal of the most sacred duty we bear as a nation–protect & equip our troops when we go into harm’s way,” Biden said.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany denied Saturday that either Trump or Vice President Mike Pence was briefed on the intelligence report.
McEnany did not deny the veracity of the report about the Russian bounty, but she said that top intelligence officials say neither Trump nor Pence was told about it.
She blasted the New York Times for reporting that Trump was briefed. The story cited unnamed officials.
“This does not speak to the merit of the intelligence but the inaccuracy of the New York Times,” she said in a statement.
The former vice president noted that according to reports, Trump was told about the campaign in March but has not mentioned the report or punished Vladimir Putin. Trump even recently called for Russia to be included in the G-7 summit this summer.
“Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin,” Biden said.
Biden made the remarks at a virtual fundraiser hosted by Hollywood heavyweight Jeffrey Katzenberg.
About 20 soldiers died in Afghanistan last year, and it’s not known how many are believed to be linked to the Russian plot.
The Times report concerned some of Trump’s Republican allies in Congress.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the leading GOP member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Twitter that if the story is true, “it would only deepen my grave concerns about the Putin regime’s malicious behavior globally.”
McCaul did not address the idea that Trump didn’t know of the intelligence, but said his administration must take “swift and serious action to hold the Putin regime accountable.”
Trump has previously said that he believes Putin’s claim that he did not order a campaign of interference in the 2016 presidential election over American intelligence that concluded Putin was responsible.