Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice rejected White House assertions that President Donald Trump wasn’t told of intelligence that Russia may have offered bounties on American troops, a subject that’s consumed Washington over the past week.
“We have a president who is doing our arch adversary’s bidding,” Rice said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, referring to Russia’s president.
“The message to Vladimir Putin is you can kill American servicemen and women with absolute impunity. This is an extraordinary revelation,” she said.
Rice, NSA to President Barack Obama, has been discussed as a possible running mate for Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate going up against Trump in November. She said on NBC that she was “going to do everything I can to help get Joe Biden elected,” whether as his running mate or was “a door-knocker.”
Reports alleging that intelligence about Russian bounties made it to the White House but that Trump took no action stirred a bipartisan outcry and demand for answers.
The administration has said that there wasn’t a consensus view of the accuracy of the intelligence, and that Trump himself was never briefed on the subject, although some reports have said the information was contained in the presidential daily brief early in 2020.
The lack of consensus wasn’t relevant, Rice said. “We don’t ever, or very rarely, have 100% certainty” on intelligence. “That’s not how the national security adviser and the top cabinet-level officials who are there to support the president are supposed to behave.”
John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, said that if only 100% verified intelligence were put before the president, it “would mean you give him almost nothing. And that’s just not the way the system works.”
The CIA director, the director of national intelligence and the NSA would typically be involved in deciding what to pass along, Bolton said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, has previously demanded an accounting of what top officials in the administration were told about the bounty intelligence and when.
“That’s the type of information that has to be seized by the president, because he’s at the intersection of all the different roads of intelligence that come together,” Reed said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Also, he’s the one that’s talking to Putin.”
Senior White House officials briefed the bipartisan “Gang of 8” on the subject behind closed doors last week, after which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement saying any reports of threats to troops “must be pursued relentlessly” and accusing Trump generally of “being soft” on Putin.
— With assistance by Ros Krasny
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