House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) slammed President Trump for calling reports about Russia bounties a hoax, saying that Trump “himself is a hoax.”
In an interview with “MSNBC Live,” Pelosi was asked about Trump’s claim that the New York Times story is “just another hoax” with its recently published story that reported the president was briefed about intelligence that Russia had placed bounties on the lives of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
“He uses a hoax because he’ll say this is a hoax, and it’s a hoax that they are 24/7 trying to disrupt our election, as they did in 2016,” Pelosi responded. “He says that coronavirus is a hoax. The fact is the president himself is a hoax.”
Last week, The New York Times reported that Russia’s military intelligence agency was secretly offered payments to Taliban militants for attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan last year.
Trump dismissed the reports about the bounties as “another made up by fake news tale.”
“The Russia Bounty story is just another made up by Fake News tale that is told only to damage me and the Republican Party,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “The secret source probably does not even exist, just like the story itself. If the discredited @nytimes has a source, reveal it. Just another HOAX!”
White House officials have vocally denied that Trump was personally briefed on the intelligence and didn’t act in response, saying the “intelligence was unverified” or “no corroborating evidence” to back reports.
Pelosi charged the White House with perpetuating a con for claiming the president didn’t need to be briefed because the intelligence wasn’t “worthy of the President’s attention.”
“I will say this about that: the White House has done a con on saying, ‘Well, because all of the agencies of intelligence have not signed off on this, it wasn’t worthy of the President’s attention.’ No, the death of our young people in Afghanistan, or any place, is worthy of the President’s attention, even if it’s caused by his friend Vladimir Putin. We have to come out of this with sanctions, additional sanctions on Russia.”
The House Speaker was asked if she has the “tools” in Congress to punish Russia.
“Every time it’s Russia, as I’ve said over and over, with this President, all roads lead to Putin,” she said. “And, by the way, at the same time as the President was aware of this intelligence, he was trying to get Russia to be back in the G-7 to make it the G-8 again. So something is wrong with this picture. As I’ve said, what is it that the Russians have on this President politically, personally or financially that has this behavior on part of the Commander-in-Chief?”
After the interview, Pelosi joined a group of the top leadership in Congress from both parties and the heads of the intelligence committees, known as the “Gang of Eight” to be briefed on the issue by CIA Director Gina Haspel and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone.
The White House responded to Pelosi’s comment, saying her “disgusting suggestion” of calling the president a hoax is “meant to divide this country.”
“The Speaker has forgotten that almost 63 million Americans voted for President Trump and any disgusting suggestion that he or his supporters are a hoax is only meant to divide this country,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said. “President Trump is protecting all Americans and working every day to bring us together as a Nation.”