The New York Times’ bombshell story reporting that President Trump has known since March that the Russian government put a price on the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan – bounties that may or may not have been collected by Taliban militants – is already unraveling.
Suspicious on its face due to its reliance on unnamed intelligence sources (and, of course, the rabidly anti-Trump reputation of the Times), the story has only grown weaker since its initial publication. Of course, that hasn’t stopped a handful of weak-kneed Republicans from giving the story legs with their usual frowny-face posturing. Apparently these Republicans have already forgotten the first Russia hoax and are already clamoring to believe a new one.
On Monday, the Department of Defense issued a statement denying the validity of the story.
“To date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports. Regardless, we always take the safety and security of our forces in Afghanistan—and around the world—most seriously and therefore continuously adopt measures to prevent harm from potential threats,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
With that statement, we officially have denials on the record from just about anyone and everyone who could know about the truth of this story. Trump has denied it, the U.S. intelligence community has denied it, the Pentagon has denied it, the Taliban has denied it, and Russia has denied it. Some of those you would expect, of course, but you do have to wonder if anyone – anyone at all – is actually willing to go on record and support the claims made in the Times story. Or is this, as we suspect, just another product of disgruntled Deep State bureaucrats who want to see the president fail?
Is it possible that Russia actually did offer bounties to Afghan extremists? Sure. Anything’s possible. We wouldn’t really put anything past Putin and we certainly wouldn’t trust the Taliban any further than we can throw them. Although, we’re not sure Islamic radicals in Afghanistan really need the promise of Russian money to convince them to carry out attacks on American soldiers. Even so, it’s believable. We could be persuaded to believe that intelligence of this sort has been circulating inside the CIA/NSA.
But guess what? There’s a reason why the president doesn’t spend all of this time sifting through raw intelligence – most of it turns out to be complete bunk. For the Times to go to press with this story – for this story to even BE a story – we have to believe that this is highly-accurate intel that was presented to Trump this spring. And we have to believe that Trump intended to do absolutely nothing about it.
So far, there’s no reason at all to believe this is the case.