Candidate Joe Biden zealously attacked President Donald Trump for failing to punish Russia for placing bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Now, the White House admits, that probably never happened.
White House Admits “Low To Moderate Confidence” In Russia Bounties Story.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced measures to penalize Russia for executing influence operations during the 2020 election, as well as the SolarWinds hack, which U.S. intelligence believes with high confidence was carried out by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service. Steps include levying sanctions against Russian individuals and entities and expelling diplomatic personnel.
A White House fact sheet also noted that “The Administration is responding to the reports that Russia encouraged Taliban attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan . . . It is being handled through diplomatic, military and intelligence channels.”
But press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged in Thursday’s briefing that the intelligence community only has “low to moderate confidence” in the bounties claim.
A reporter asked, “Given that assessment, does the President have any regrets for how many times he attacked President Trump on the campaign about this issue for not taking action related to the Russian bounties?”
Psaki replied, “Well, I’m not going to speak to the previous administration. But I will say that we had enough concern about these reports and about the targeting of our men and women serving—the men and women who are proudly serving around the world—that we wanted our intelligence community to look into it.”
In June 2020, as a candidate, Biden excoriated then-President Donald Trump for inaction on the explosive report, saying, among numerous statements, “Not only has he failed to sanction and impose any kind of consequences on Russia for this egregious violation of international law, Donald Trump has continued his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin.” He accused Trump of “turning a blind eye,” “betrayal,” knowing of the report for months, and having “done worse than nothing.” The Trump administration stressed that the intelligence was unverified and that there was “no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations.”
In his remarks Thursday, Biden erroneously referred to Putin as “President Clutin.”
Bonus From The Briefing Room.
Q: “Immigrant and refugee advocates say they can’t recall a time when a presidential declaration took this long after first announcing to increase the refugee cap. So just to ask again: I mean, what is the delay here?”
Psaki: “Again, I can just reiterate the President remains committed to raising the refugee cap. And obviously, his commitment to ensuring that we are treating refugees, immigrants, people who come into our country with humanity is evident in most of his — in his policies.”