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U.S. Republicans, Democrats want to question Trump aides over Russia bounty reports

Reuters logo Reuters 6/29/2020 By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 28: (L-R) Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) and committee ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) arrive for a classified House Armed Services Committee briefing at the U.S. Capitol, May 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Committee members were briefed behind closed doors by representatives from the Defense Intelligence Agency's National Center for Medical Intelligence. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) © 2020 Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 28: (L-R) Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) and committee ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) arrive for a classified House Armed Services Committee briefing at the U.S. Capitol, May 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Committee members were briefed behind closed doors by representatives from the Defense Intelligence Agency's National Center for Medical Intelligence. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, June 29 (Reuters) - Both Democrats and President Donald Trump's fellow Republican lawmakers in Congress demanded more information from the White House on Monday after reports that Russian military intelligence offered militants bounties for killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

"Congress and the country need answers now. I therefore request an interagency brief for all House Members immediately," Democratic U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and CIA Director Gina Haspel.

"The questions that arise are: was the President briefed, and if not, why not, and why was Congress not briefed?" Pelosi wrote.

Representative Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, joined the panel's chairman, Democratic Representative Adam Smith, in asking the Department of Defense for a briefing.

"The American people – and our service members – deserve to know the truth about what the White House knew about these Russian operations that may have directly resulted in the deaths of American service members," Smith said.

Thornberry told reporters on Monday that any delay "will not be acceptable."

One congressional aide said a meeting on the issue with some congressional Republicans would take place at the White House later on Monday. Aides to Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats said there was no indication any Democrats would be invited to participate.

Schumer called for an immediate briefing from Ratcliffe and Haspel for all 100 senators.

Trump has dismissed the reports as "fake news" and took to Twitter to suggest the reports were being spread by media outlets trying to make Republicans look bad.

Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican acting intelligence committee chairman, declined to comment on the reports, saying on Twitter only that the committee would "continue to conduct vigorous oversight" of threats facing the United States.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Franklin Paul and Dan Grebler)


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